But is all stress bad? We tend to lump all stress together into one great big all-encompassing category and treat it as if there’s only one solution, and that is to slow down. But slowing down reduces productivity, which then causes even more stress. In his book, “Thrive”, Brendan Brazier describes three types of stress and how to effectively manage the types of stress.
The first type of stress is uncomplementary stress, which is anxiety that produces no benefit and should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible. Uncomplementary stress accounts for the majority of our stress. Causes of uncomplementary stress include psychological stress (e.g., worrying about future events that cannot be controlled), environmental stress (e.g., breathing and ingesting toxins), and nutritional stress (caused by not eating enough whole, unprocessed, unrefined nutrient-dense foods). According to Brazier, “nutritional stress is by far the greatest source of uncomplementary stress, accounting for approximately 70 percent of it”.
The absence of healthy foods causes stress because the body does not have what it needs to support cell regeneration to rebuild new body tissue. A common cause of nutritional stress is consuming too much refined food, and is linked to compromised health and the development of food sensitivities and food allergies.
The second type of stress is complementary stress, which stimulates renewal and instigates growth within the body. Exercise, the best way to stimulate regeneration of cells, is a form of complementary stress. Complementary stress can also be stimulated by uncomplementary stress. For example, positive change can be triggered when uncomplementary stress is no longer tolerable. On the other hand, many people tolerate uncomplementary stress when things are unpleasant, but bearable. So in a sense, something that is unbearable is better than something that is simply dissatisfying because something unbearable will be a catalyst for change.
The third type of stress is production stress, which is created when you strive to achieve a goal. It is an unavoidable by-product of being productive. Working toward a goal can be demanding as well as rewarding.
Knowing the different types of stress, the best strategy to manage stress is to select your stressors by cultivating beneficial stressors while at the same time reducing or eliminating unbeneficial stressors. Your productivity will improve if the right stressors are eliminated.
The easiest way to greatly reduce uncomplementary stress is by consuming an abundance of nutrient-dense, whole, plant-based foods. Regular consumption of these foods supports cellular regeneration, which is needed to rebuild new body tissue, a process that is vital for every aspect of health and vitality.
Furthermore, whole, plant-based foods are easier to digest and assimilate. Consuming foods that are more easily assimilated conserves large amounts of energy and therefore reduces stress in the body. The energy conserved becomes a net energy surplus that the body can use to improve immune function and speed up restoration of cells damaged by stress, both anti-aging activities.
On the other hand, processed and refined foods have had nutrients and enzymes stripped away, so the body has to work harder to produce its own enzymes to digest and assimilate the food, which results in a huge energy draw that stresses the body and leaves you tired after you eat.
In addition to extra energy and anti-aging activities, other benefits of consuming more nutrient-dense whole, plant-based foods include decreased body fat, enhanced mental clarity, and loss of cravings for refined foods.
We don’t always have control over all of our stressors. However, we do have control over what we choose to put into our bodies. By choosing nutrient-dense whole, plant-based foods, we can greatly reduce or completely eliminate nutritional stress, which in turn will reduce the majority of our uncomplementary stress to help us achieve balance and health.