Love, food, drink

Love has long being considered to be the opposite of fear and is often spoken about in the same sentence, for example, ‘I am fearful of love’, or ‘I have a fear of being hurt in love’, ‘I fear not being loved’ or ‘I fear that my love will be rejected’.

Fear is often looked upon as a negative emotion, however it is an essential emotion that alerts you to ‘life or death’ situations so that you can avoid harm. Issues arise when you get stuck in fear in the absence of ‘life or death situations’ as discussed above with fear and love. When you get stuck in this love-fear-induced stress, this may bring about reactive or comfort eating and drinking. The issue here is that the possible food and drink choices you make are often unsupportive of your health and well-being and only serve to further exacerbate this stress.

It is well known that fear triggers the fight or flight response resulting in your adrenal glands (endocrine glands located on top of both your kidneys) releasing stress hormones such as cortisol[i]. In ‘life or death’ situations, the release of cortisol is an essential physiological response ensuring your body is ready to respond to the situation so that you are able to survive the offending stressor. When your are not fighting or flighting for your life, as is the case with comfort eating and drinking due to love or fear issues (usually a non-life threatening situation) this may then become detrimental to you and your health.

The western scientific fields of psychoneuroimmunology and epidemiology have both associated prolonged ‘stress’ with a weakened immune system, increased cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and IBS, fertility complications, impaired formation of long-term memories and damage to parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. Other symptoms include fatigue, an increased likelihood of osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes, aggravated clinical depression, accelerated ageing and even premature death[ii]. Furthermore, prolonged fear may also increase C-reactive proteins (C-RP) levels, which along with chronically elevated cortisol levels, also contributes to poor health associated with inflammatory reactions seen in various diseased states[iii].

Traditional medicine practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have also recognized the issue with chronic stress, in particular associated with the emotion of fear and its impact on your health and well-being. Based on the TCM five element theory it is believed that elements, emotions, and organ systems are correlated. For example, the water element is correlated with the emotion of fear, and the kidney and bladder organs. Prolonged fear, as described above, may cause kidney or bladder disharmonies, which may present as weak immune function, gastrointestinal problems, reproductive and memory issues, osteoporosis, exacerbation of other emotional issues and the aging process.[iv]

Based on the unhealthy effects of prolonged love-fear-induced stress, it therefore is essential that you are able to process your emotion of fear so that you may prevent the systemic complications categorised by western medicine or TCM. Rather than reaching out for that comfort food or drink, there are other ways in which you can manage the effects of love-fear-induced stress. You can perform the TCM advocated relaxation activity of Qi Gong[v], you can use breathing techniques[vi] [vii], meditation[viii] or have a relaxing massage[ix]. TCM also advocates the importance of food and drink choices as another way of dealing with love-fear-induced stress, emphasizing supporting the organs (the kidneys and bladder in this situation) from the impact of love-fear-induced stress. Choosing foods and drinks according to TCM that supports the water element may assist your body to deal with the unhealthy effects of love-fear-induced stress.

Improve your emotional health with love

From a TCM diet therapy perspective, food choices that support the water element in times of love-fear-induced stress include vegetables such as sweet potato, potato, mung bean sprouts and sting beans; fruits such as watermelon and berries in particular strawberries, blueberries, mulberries and blackberries; grains such as millet and barley; proteins such as pork, lamb, tofu, black soybeans and eggs, nuts and seeds such as walnuts and lotus seeds[x].

As it is uncommon for western science to associate recommending foods for love-fear-induced stress, it may be possible to associate foods and their effect on physiological functions. For example, prolonged love-fear-induced stress, as discussed above has an impact on the adrenals and the release of cortisol. Research does make the following findings with certain foods and adrenal function. For example, vitamin C rich foods may act as a reducing agent for the mixed function oxidase enzyme used in the synthesis of steroid hormones in the adrenal glands and as such support adrenal function in dealing with prolonged fear[xi].

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Knowing this information, it would therefore make sense that when feeling fearful, it may benefit you to consume vitamin C rich foods, such as kiwifruit, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and grapefruits), apples, berries (raspberries, strawberries and blueberries), pineapples, mango, cantaloupe, melon, tomato and vegetables, in particular red and green capsicums (bell peppers) and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

Another support for your adrenals is licorice root. The confectionary licorice does not count! A cup of refreshing licorice root tea may also support your adrenal glands in times of prolonged fear or stress[xii]. If, however, you have high blood pressure, then avoid the use of licorice as a tea as it can raise blood pressure. Always consult your health professional first.

Enjoy green tea to feel love

Another food choice example that you can make in response to prolonged love-fear-induced stress is to select foods that have been show by western research to reduce C-RP, which is elevated during times of prolonged stress, as discussed above. The following foods have been observed in clinical research to reduce C-RP levels:

  • Green tea[xiii]
  • Curcumin (an active constituent of turmeric)[xiv]
  • Omega 3 rich sources from deep sea fish such as salmon and tuna. Nuts and flaxseeds are also essential for good health and is a well-known part of the Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats. It is generally accepted that foods rich in these essential fatty acid have beneficial effect in reducing inflammation, such as C-RP[xv]. If you cannot get enough through your diet, a high quality fish oil or vegetarian omega 3 supplement would be a valuable inclusion in your diet
  • Magnesium rich foods[xvi] [xvii] (whole grains grown in magnesium rich soils, dried figs, almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, kelp, sunflower seeds, dandelion, chamomile, broccoli, spinach and beetroot)
  • Quercetin rich foods[xviii] (green tea, most fruits and vegetables and condiments such as fennel leaves, chilli and dill)
  • Vitamin C rich food[xix] (most fruits and vegetables as listed above)
  • Folic acid rich foods[xx] (legumes such as kidney beans, mung beans, lentils, soya beans. Kale, spinach and broccoli)
  • Probiotics especially the Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) strain[xxi] (which in addition to potentially reducing C-RP, probiotics promote a healthy microbiome, which leads to a healthy gut and a healthy body as well as healthy emotions. Interestingly, most of our serotonin (happy mood neurotransmitter) resides in the digestive tract. This is what is often referred to as the brain-gut axis. A healthy gut equates to a healthy brain/mood.
  • Dark chocolate[xxii]

As cardiovascular disease is a possible negative effect from prolonged stress, which is common with love-fear-induced stress, most probably associated with the release of C-RP and cortisol, as discussed above, it is has been reported that a diet high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease[xxiii]. It would therefore also make sense to choose foods with high antioxidant levels, such as:

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts (as recommend by Chinese diet therapy to support the liver!)
  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale, bok choy, spinach, silverbeet, dandelion and parsley leaves
  • Condiments such as turmeric (better absorption if mixed with black pepper), and rosemary
  • Glutathione rich foods such as asparagus, spinach, avocado, squash, zucchini, melons, grapefruit, strawberries and peaches
  • Beetroot
  • Artichoke
  • Dandelion and chicory root
  • Most fruits and vegetables

Also of importance to consider is pure, filtered, clean water. Water is not only essential in maintaining adequate hydration to assist the kidney with its filtration function , it is essential to prevent cortisol release. Studies seeking to identify other biological indicators of hydration status have shown an increase in serum cortisol levels with dehydration . Dehydration may also impact on cardiovascular function based on the observations that dehydration markedly impairs cardiovascular function in hyperthermic endurance athletes during exercise . Although you may not be an endurance athlete, prolonged love-fear-induced stress with prolonged dehydration increases the probability of your cardiac and kidney functions being impaired. It stands to reason that being well hydrated may reduce the negative effects from prolonged love-fear-induced stress.

Love, food, drink summed up

We all experience fear. It is a useful emotion that helps you to identify danger and to keep safe. But problems arise in both your body and mind, when you become stuck in your fear, and cannot get past your feelings of restlessness, nervousness or panic.

There are many ways in which you can help release your fears and replace them with a feeling of love. An important way is to reconsider your food and drink choices and their effects on your body, health and wellbeing.

Eat some …

  • Vegetables – sweet potato, potato, mung bean sprouts and string beans
  • Fruits – watermelon and berries in particular strawberries, blueberries, mulberries and blackberries
  • Grains – millet and barley
  • Proteins – pork, lamb, tofu, black soybeans and eggs
  • Nuts and seeds – walnuts, lotus seeds and Brazil nuts (limited to 2 per day)
  • Magnesium rich foods – whole grains, dried figs, almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, kelp, sunflower seeds, dandelion, chamomile, broccoli, spinach and beetroot
  • Quercetin rich foods – green tea, most fruits and vegetables, condiments such as fennel leaves, chili and dill
  • Vitamin C rich foods – kiwifruit, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, apples, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, mango, cantaloupe melon, red and green capsicums (bell peppers), broccoli and tomato juice
  • Folic acid rich foods – kidney beans, mung beans, lentils, soya beans, kale, spinach and broccoli
  • Omega 3 rich foods – salmon, tuna, fish oil supplements, nuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Antioxidant rich foods – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, spinach, silverbeet, dandelion, parsley leaves, turmeric, rosemary, asparagus, avocado, squash, zucchini, melons, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, beetroot, artichoke, dandelion and chicory root
  • Dark chocolate
  • Multistrain probiotic

Drink some …

  • Green tea
  • Dandelion and chicory root tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Licorice root tea
  • Tomato juice
  • Pure filtered water

We hope that you find this information useful and enjoy implementing some of these suggestions into your daily routine to bring about an added sense of love to your life.

Eat, drink, be happy, healthy and love!


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Footnotes

[i] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/anger-how-it-affects-people

[ii]Ropeik D. The consequences of fear. EMBO Rep. 2004 Oct; 5(Suppl 1): S56–S60. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400228

[iii] Melamed S., Shirom A., Toker S., Berliner S., Shapira I. Association of Fear of Terror With Low-Grade Inflammation Among Apparently Healthy Employed Adults. Psychosomatic Medicine July/August 2004 – Volume 66 – Issue 4 – pp 484-491

[iv] Maciocia G. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine p132, 1995 Churchill Livingston

[v] Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F. A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. American journal of health promotion : AJHP. 2010;24(6):e1-e25. doi:10.4278/ajhp.081013-LIT-248.

[vi] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one of the National Institutes of Health: Relaxation Techniques for Health http://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm

[vii] Borge CR, Hagen KB, Mengshoel AM, Omenaas E, Moum T, Wahl AK. Effects of controlled breathing exercises and respiratory muscle training in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: results from evaluating the quality of evidence in systematic reviews. BMC Pulmonary Medicine. 2014;14:184. doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-184.

[viii] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one of the National Institutes of Health: Relaxation Techniques for Health http://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm

[ix] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one of the National Institutes of Health: Massage Therapy for Health Purposes http://nccih.nih.gov/health/massage/massageintroduction.htm

[x] Leggett D A guide to the energetics of food based on the traditions of Chinese medicine wall chart White Pine Printers Inc 2005

[xi] Meletis, C. D. et al. Adrenal fatigue: enhancing quality of life for patients with a functional disorder. Alternative & Complementary Therapies. 8(5), 2002

[xii] Rouse, J. Herbal support for adrenal function. Clinical Nutrition Insights. 6(9):1-2, 1998

[xiii] Bogdanski, P., et al. Green tea extract reduces blood pressure, inflammatory biomarkers, and oxidative stress and improves parameters associated with insulin resistance in obese, hypertensive patients. Nutr Res. 32(6):421-427, 2012.

[xiv] Banerjee, M., et al. Modulation of inflammatory mediators by ibuprofen and curcumin treatment during chronic inflammation in rat. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 25(2):213-224, 2003

[xv] Niu, K., et al. Dietary long-chain n-3 fatty acids of marine origin and serum C-reactive protein concentrations are associated in a population with a diet rich in marine products. Am J Clin Nutr. 84(1):223-229, 2006

[xvi] Guerrwero-Romero, F., et al. Relationship between serum magnesium levels and C-reactive protein concentration, in non-diabetic, non-hypertensive obese subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 26(4):469-474, 2002.

[xvii] In-TKing, D. E., et al. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 24(3):166-171, 2005.

[xviii] Chun, O. K., et al. Serum C-reactive protein concentrations are inversely associated with dietary flavonoid intake in U.S. adults. Journal of Nutrition. 138(4):753-760, 2008.

[xix] Block, G., et al. Vitamin C treatment reduces elevated C-reactive protein. Free Radic Biol Med. 46(1):70-77, 2009.

[xx] Solini, A., et al. Effect of short-term folic acid supplementation on insulin sensitivity and inflammatory markers in overweight subjects. Int J Obes (London). 30(8):1197-1202, 2006.

[xxi] Kekkonen, R. A., et al. Probiotic intervention has strain-specific anti-inflammatory effects in healthy adults. World J Gastroenterol. 14(13):2029-206, 2008. Institute of Biomedicine, Pharmacology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

[xxii] di Giuseppe, R., et al. Regular consumption of dark chocolate is associated with low serum concentrations of C-reactive protein in a healthy Italian population. Journal of Nutrition. 138(10):1939-1945, 2008.

[xxiii] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants

[xxiv] Di Paolo, N., et al. High doses of water increase the purifying capacity of the kidneys. Int J Artif Organs. 30(12):1109-1115, 2007

[xxv] Wilson M-M G., Morley J E. Impaired cognitive function and mental performance in mild dehydration European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003) 57, Suppl 2, S24–S29. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601898

[xxvi] González-Alonso, José, Ricardo Mora-Rodríguez, Paul R. Below, Edward F. Coyle. Dehydration markedly impairs cardiovascular function in hyperthermic endurance athletes during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology Apr 1997, 82 (4) 1229-1236


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