Stress in the Modern World

By Dietitian Anthony Glanville


If you’re alive, you’ve got stress. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences that can be beneficial to your health and safety. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates. Your brain gets more oxygen, giving you an edge in responding to a problem. In the short term, stress can be a good thing. It keeps us alert, motivates us, and can make us work harder. Chronic, long term, day in and day out stress can cause a variety of symptoms and can affect your overall health and well-being in a variety of ways!


Cortisol and your belly

Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that gets released when you are stressed. Repeated, long term elevation of cortisol can lead to weight gain and also an increase in fat sored around your abdomen (otherwise known as visceral fat). This type of fat has been shown to lead to increased risk of CVD, diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancers. Managing stress can keep the kilo’s off and make you live longer!


Bloating and your Digestive System

Our understanding of the link between the brain and the gut increases every day, Links are now being seen between stress and your digestive system – with some that suffer from stress reporting an increase in bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, or poor gut function. Stress makes your gut a less hospitable place to live, with decreased enzyme and transporting function and a less ideal balance of gut bacteria. This can lead to more bloating!


How stress affects food choices

Many studies of stress have shown a link between high chronic stress and poorer nutritional choices. Many people often turn caffeine, high carbohydrate meals, and sugar to help relieve stress (by making you feel happy and energetic) These are short term fixes that ‘kick the can down the road’, as opposed to solving chronic stress. This short term fix of not lowering stress levels, making you go back for more, combined with the already known dangers of excessive consumption, can lead to an avalanche of bad health.


How to Manage Stress

The key to lowering stress, and therefore decreasing your risk of many metabolic diseases is to focus on long-term lifestyle changes that help your ability to lower stress and improve your reaction to it.

Focusing on exercise, mediation/breathing exercises/yoga, workplace environment and habit alterations, and looking at improving your diet by recuing intake of process foods, particularly carbohydrates, and increasing your intake of whole foods (like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds) and healthy fats.


Come see any of the Dietitians at Pinnacle Health Group for more information about reducing stress through your diet.



Anthony Glanville is a Dietitian at our Sydney Westpac Sites

Eating for Performance – By Edwina McDonald

While the physical training involved in a run is imperative many people overlook the added benefits of eating the right macro and micronutrients. Here are some tips to keep in mind, even if your next run is not a marathon.

  1. Eat a variety of different coloured vegetables to ensure adequate antioxidant intake. These contain antioxidants which fight free radical cellular damage brought about by exercise induced oxidative stress.
  2. Hydration is extremely important. Use the weigh and reweigh technique pre and post training to gauge how much fluid you lose through sweat loss. Use this as a guide to help you stay hydrated during your runs.
  3. Try to consume carbohydrates within an hour of training to replace lost muscle glycogen. Protein within this window is also vital to help provide muscles with essential amino acids for repair. Opt for low GI protein containing grains such as brown rice, quinoa, multigrain bread and wholemeal pasta. Milk and yoghurt are great snack options containing protein, low GI carbohydrate and calcium which is involved in muscle contraction.
  4. On Race day, stick to the basics. Practice the meal/snacks you will consume before and during a long distance event. Avoid high fibre options as these may affect your GI system. Have your meal 2 hours before the event and a high GI carbohydrate snack 1 hour prior.
  5. During the race gels and sports drinks can be used during the event to top up muscle glycogen stores. After you’ve finished aim to refuel within 30 minutes and then follow with a meal containing carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.

The food you consume during training, on race day and for recovery will all impact on how you perform and improve. Good Luck!




Edwina McDonald practices at 120 Collins and Docklands in Melbourne

Spring into Summer: How to Clean up your Diet

By Anthony Glanville


After a long and very chilly winter, the warmer weather is a great opportunity for us to start creating a healthier and happier you! Here are some guaranteed tips that will help increase your energy, reduce inflammation, minimise oxidative stress and help you lose that last few kilos.


Kick start your spring by doing these simple tips:

  1. Focus on balance. Avoid meals and snacks that are dominated by carbohydrates, protein, or fat. Try to make sure you are including plenty of vegetables and/or fruit as well. A great start is to aim for a dinner plate of ¼ carbohydrates, ¼ protein, and ½ vegetables. Look at a meal you’re making and ask…can I add some more veggies to this?
  1. Switch the carbs and drop the sugar. Highly processed carbohydrates and foods high in added sugar have been stripped of their nutrition. They provide very little benefit aside from spiking blood sugar which promotes weight gain. Eat low GI carbs like brown rice, wholemeal bread/pasta, oats, sweet potato, lentils, and legumes. Drop foods with lots of added sugar like flavoured yoghurt. Read the ingredients list and if sugar is in the first 4 ingredients then run for the hills!
  1. Get moving. When we are young, our bodies take care of themselves, build muscle and burn fat. As we get older those signals start to weaken so we need exercise to help us out. You don’t have to kill yourself in the gym immediately. Aim for at least 1 hour of physical activity a day (around 10,000 steps), take the stairs, and stand up for longer at work and on public transport. In addition, try to do 3-4 set exercise sessions a week where your heart rate is up like walking, running, swimming or cycling.
  1. Get organised. The key to being successful is good planning! Try planning your meals for the week, or even preparing some meals or ingredients.  Have access to easy and quick healthy options so you don’t reach for the snacks. All of this will make it easier for you to stick to your diet.
  1. Set some goals. Focus on goals that alter your behaviour. We set goals around our professional life, financial life etc, but rarely for our behaviours. Don’t set outcome goals like “I’m going to lose 5 kilograms’ instead try and set a behaviour based goal. Examples include: ‘I will plan my meals for the week’, ‘I will swap the soda for water’. This way, the outcomes will take care of themselves.

 You will see a happier and healthier you by summer.




Anthony practices at Westpac Barangaroo in Sydney.