TSG Tips | Stress Management + Nervous System Health

We had the chance to chat with our new member for volume 7, Meg Green, RD, PLLC about all things nutrition and stress management. Thanks, Meg for the helpful guidance for our readers!

The Scout Guide NWA: There’s an overwhelming amount of conversations happening around nutrition and activity as a means to manage stress and energy, which makes it hard to know where to start. What’s the best way to cut through the noise and find solutions? 

Meg Green: In an effort to manage stress and energy,  a professional who is trained in functional nutrition with legitimate credentials and experience would be the first best step to solutions. As a Registered Dietitian for 16 years, and the only Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner in the state, I understand and appreciate professionals that are constantly committed to updating practices for the betterment of patients. It can be confusing to know where to look for trustworthy support. For instance, in Arkansas, an established nutritionist isn’t board certified and is not able to provide medical nutrition therapy. If someone chooses to go to a nutritionist, they will find very generalized information such as “protein helps build muscle”. However, a certified dietitian can tell a patient the exact amount of protein needed each day to optimize health. That is just one of the reasons it is important to work with a professional who is trained and certified to provide guidance with anything regarding nutrition. Finding a functional-minded Registered Dietitian is a great start.

TSG: What lifestyle changes do you recommend for immediate impact? 

MG: A simple and impactful practice to start doing now to have an immediate impact is breathing.  When we are stressed, we are engaging our fight, flight, or freeze response. That engagement is actually triggering our sympathetic nervous system. While in the state, a tremendous amount of energy and nutrients are demanded by the body. Seeing women in this state is becoming more and more prevalent in my practice. Thus, a focus on breathing is vital to initiate the release of stress.  When we do breathing exercises, it shifts from the nervous system to a calming mechanism, which is our parasympathetic nervous system. A simple technique is box breathing, which consists of inhaling for 4 seconds and holding for 4 seconds then exhaling for 4 seconds and holding for 4 seconds. A few rounds of box breathing can allow that shift without any supplements, fancy equipment, or special foods. I open each and every session with new breathing exercises with my patients, adding a new method for them to utilize moving forward. 

TSG: What long term strategies do you see as most effective in your practice? 

MG: For long term effectiveness, we must find strategies for providing adequate nutrition and healing the gut.  When we are in a constant stressed state, we are depleting nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, iron, etc. For example, magnesium is used in over 400 functions of the body. When it is running low, the body will “ration” the supply.  The lungs, brain, and heart will naturally be the beneficiaries of those rations.  Unfortunately, hormones, hair, muscles and other parts of our body which need magnesium will go without adequate amounts.  This begins a growing cycle of depleting other areas.  The effect of this cycle of depletion over stresses the body therefore causing more stress, hence the need to intervene to stop the cycle.   Knowing how to adequately replenish and maintain nutrition, while doing a full mind body approach on reducing stress, will set the patient up for long term success.  

TSG: How does guy health tie into our stress levels and what can people do to change that? 

MG: When the gut is stressed, the mind is stressed and vice versa.  The gut-brain connection is strong.  The terms “gut feeling” and “gut instinct” are phrases derived from this.  It is the reason why when we get a bad feeling about something or are very worried, we can feel nauseous.  About 80% of our good mood neurotransmitters are made in the gut.  If there is inflammation, poor digestion, backed up excretion, and malabsorption then the good mood signaling won’t occur as designed.  Plus as mentioned above, not absorbing nutrients to support cognition and cellular communication, these functions will be suboptimal.  We see this as brain fog, poor memory, mixing up words, poor comprehension, and changes in mood all due to poor gut health. 

If you would like to book a discovery call with Meg, you can contact her HERE!