A lot of material has been published on the benefits of amaranth during stresses, depressions and other types of nervous overstrain and exhaustion, which, according to statistics, every fifth resident of a large city faces. All these materials are written, as a rule, by doctors or their patients and demonstrate the practical result that for some readers it is not sufficient confirmation of the benefit of amaranth for the nervous system (everyone knows the placebo effect, moreover, the complete picture of the patient’s treatment is rarely outlined). Nevertheless, there are scientific studies confirming the effectiveness of amaranth in the treatment and elimination of the effects of stress. In this article we will talk about how exactly amaranth can affect the nervous system when it is overstressed.
A little about stress: signs and basic measures of struggle
Signs of stress
Stress in the most common form is an emotional burnout. Among its main symptoms are:
- decrease in working capacity;
- various sleep disorders (insomnia, restless and superficial sleep, nightmares);
- appetite disturbances (and at some people his absence is observed, and others, on the contrary, there is an uncontrollable desire to eat everything in a row);
- fussiness, causeless exaggeration;
- weight gain (both due to “sticking” of stress, and due to excessive production of the hormone cortisol, which contributes to the deposition of fat).
Two of these symptoms in 60 percent probability indicate the presence of stress, three or more – with a 95 percent probability. In the second case, it is necessary to take measures to counteract stress, although, guided by common sense, they should be taken when two symptoms appear, as stress control in this case will be easier.
If stress is ignored, there comes his next stage, which is characterized by the appearance of symptoms of clinical depression. Researchers have tried to draw a clear line between stress and depression, but opinions still differ. In Western medicine, signs of depression are already considered to be reduced performance, attention, ability to concentrate, along with one of the physiological signs of stress – sleep disturbance, nutrition, and so on. In the post-Soviet space, the diagnosis of depression is made by specialists in nervous diseases when more serious symptoms appear, which are often the primary diseases and disorders. Such signs include chronic insomnia, bulimia, headache, suicide attempts, and so on. However, it should be noted that when making diagnoses “stress” and “depression”, domestic medicine is increasingly becoming more and more Western.
In any case, depression needs treatment with the help of qualified psychiatrists and specialists in nervous diseases: our and European doctors agree in this opinion. Chronic stress is successfully treated with the help of a psychotherapist or a competent psychologist. Single stress, predisposition to it and other signs of incipient emotional burnout can be eliminated independently.
Actually, this is what our compatriots, who successfully get rid of stress, do. The practice of regularly visiting a psychologist in Ukraine and in the CIS countries as a whole is not common, and qualified psychologists can be found mainly in large cities. Therefore, people who notice problems with the nervous system, take action on their own.
Self Stress Management Techniques
Measures that involve self-stabilization of the nervous system, differ in each case. Unfortunately, the medical literacy of the CIS population in this matter is rather low, again due to the fact that emotional attention is paid to us much less attention than in the West (and than it should be at all). Therefore, people are largely treated intuitively, according to rumors, the advice of friends and various unreliable sources. Sometimes the body’s needs are “guessed”, sometimes it turns out only to suppress stress, but not to solve the problem, and sometimes it is impossible to even suppress the symptoms. In general, methods of self-control of stress are as follows.
Some people take a vacation and leave for a month in the mountains (at sea, fresh sunrise at mountain in the forest, you need to emphasize). When starting or not too severe emotional burnout is a very sensible approach, bringing the result in the vast majority of cases. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford such treatment at any time when they notice signs of stress.
Others go to the pharmacy and buy well-known stress medicines. This option can not be called optimal for two reasons. First, most safe preparations for normalization of the nervous system for almost any person are, as a rule, rather weak and unable to cope with general emotional burnout. More potent drugs should be prescribed exclusively by the attending physician, since they can aggravate the situation and not solve the problem. Secondly, medications are more or less, but they have a negative effect on the liver and kidneys, which, if taken for a long time, can cause various disorders.
Still others try to eliminate the cause of stress. The method is effective, and, probably, without at least minimal use of stress, it is impossible to get rid of it. Not everyone can afford to quit their job when it causes emotional burnout, but you can always determine which factors at work act on the nervous system most destructively, and try to smooth them out.
The fourth uses methods of psychological resistance, namely, they try to distract or balance negative emotions with positive ones. For example, after a hard and exhausting working day, they go to a bar to relax with friends, watch a nice movie, and so on. The method as a whole is effective, but it has many negative sides. More or less harmless ways to increase the level of dopamine and reduce the destructive effects of stress are mostly rather weak. Movies, music; Male alcoholism; other harmless stimulants may act once or twice, but they will not be able to “heal” constantly from strong stress. Therefore, the majority of people suffering from quite severe stress resort to stronger stimulants of the dopamine system, namely alcohol, sweets, and sometimes banned substances. About the harm listed for the thousandth time can not be mentioned.
Fifth, they use methods of physiological resistance: they sign up for fitness clubs, start running in the mornings, normalize diet. This is an effective and harmless (and even more than useful) way to counter stress, comparable to the first, because it actually works on the same principle. Namely, thanks to the movement and the necessary nutrients, the dopamine system is launched, the production of stress hormones is reduced, and the residues of these hormones realize their functions in the body as intended by nature, and are not aimed at destruction due to the inability to be used for its intended purpose. In fact, this method eliminates the physiological problems that affect the general condition of a person and his nervous system as stress. All this sounds difficult and incomprehensible, so let’s look at how this system works and what does amaranth have to do with it.
The physiology of stress and amaranth
Physiology of stress: the hormone cortisol
Surely everyone has heard of such a hormone as cortisol. The media scare headlines that “cortisol is a death hormone,” bodybuilders fear it, and fat people are convinced that it is the cause of their fullness and that because of it they can never lose weight. All this, of course, is a continuous hyperbolization, which does not correspond to reality. But in the initial premises that provoked all these rumors, there is some truth.
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and, generally speaking, the body has many functions. He is involved in the metabolism – mainly carbohydrates and fats, although partially and proteins, is involved in the synthesis of enzymes and does much more. One of its main functions is to prepare the body to respond to stressful situations, that is, roughly speaking, mobilization.
As part of the mobilization, cortisol does the following:
Responsible for energy consumption, namely, it activates the muscles, while reducing their glucose consumption, which is a kind of fuel for the muscles and physical activity of the person as a whole. At the same time, it “collects” glucose from the whole body in order to “give out” it to the muscles as much as it is absolutely necessary. This is done so that a person can survive in stressful conditions for as long as possible – for example, to fight the enemy, run, resist the forces of nature, such as a violent current, wind, cold, and so on. Stressful conditions initially suggest a strong physical exertion, and the production of cortisol is designed specifically for it.
The problem is that in the modern world stressful situations do not imply strong physical exertion, and the kortizol2 is not triggered by natural disasters or the need to escape from wild animals. The person practically does not spend physical efforts for struggle against stress. The result is that glucose, without spending on the strongest physical activity, remains in the body in an unrealized form. And this entails the notorious obesity (without realizing, she begins to stock up in the form of fat – she simply has nowhere else to go). More serious consequences, such as diabetes mellitus, sometimes occur when the body is not able to produce enough insulin to cope with the amount of glucose that is produced when cortisol is released and, ultimately, under stress.
Worse, often the organs from which cortisol “took” glucose, “require” replenishment of stocks. As a result, a person begins to want sources of glucose – sweet, flour and other “fast” carbohydrates, which maximally contribute to an increase in the level of glucose in the shortest possible time. The effects of excess glucose in the blood are exacerbated.
Blocks dopamine production. Under stressful conditions, a person is absolutely not supposed to feel relaxed, contented and happy (which dopamine contributes to) – on the contrary, he needs to show aggression. Cortisol does just that.
Again, when dealing with an enemy, this is useful. With problems at work or at home, aggression only worsens the situation, remains unfulfilled, puts pressure on the psyche, provokes scandals, quarrels, poor health, deterioration in relations with colleagues, etc. Not to mention the fact that dopamine contributes in part to intellectual performance, and blocking dopamine system, respectively, intellectual performance significantly reduces. What we have with stress.
It slows down and partially blocks the immune system. Human immunity requires very serious resources, but in stressful situations, as a rule, it is not needed – it is needed only after overcoming them. Therefore, cortisol suppresses the immune responses that are activated immediately after reducing the level of cortisol in the blood (that is, after the cessation of a stressful situation).
On the one hand, it reduces the risk of an allergic reaction to anything (which is why allergies are often treated with drugs that are an artificial analogue of cortisol), and on the other hand, it can trigger inflammatory processes, viral infections and so on. For a short period of time, which should be a stressful situation, it does not matter. For a long time, of course, this is an extremely bad situation for the body, which is fraught with the development of several inflammatory diseases and the activation of the majority of viruses in the body.
The physiology of stress: a decrease in cortisol levels
Obviously, all of the above leads to the conclusion that it is necessary to somehow cope with cortisol.
Launching the dopamine system is the way out because the body “understands”: if the dopamine system works, it means that there is no stressful situation, it means that mobilization can be stopped. The disadvantages of this method are described above: the stimulants of the dopamine system are either weak or excessively harmful.
Movement, jogging in the morning, fitness clubs, hiking trips are the way out because resources are spent on physical activity, for the sake of overcoming which cortisol worked. In other words, they replace activity in a stressful situation – a situation to which the adrenal glands reacted to produce cortisol.
Eliminating the cause of stress helps in an obvious way: the adrenal glands “do not see” stress and do not produce the appropriate hormone.
Medications work in different ways, but ultimately they are all aimed at suppressing the above described physiological effects of cortisol production.
Necessary batteries help to reduce the amount of cortisol and eliminate the effects of its action in the body.
Such elements are primarily certain groups and types of fatty acids. Namely – phospholipids and cholesterol esters. Consider how they act in the context of cortisol production.
Phospholipids are one of the types of fats that a person receives mainly from food. They largely provide physical activity, they are used as supplements by bodybuilders and other athletes. But most importantly, under stress, cortisol is trying to increase the amount of phospholipids in the blood. And if it is easy to “get” glucose from reserves, then it is much harder to “get” phospholipids – especially if their amount in the body itself is not very high. As a result, we get the following picture: the less phospholipids in the body, the more cortisol will be produced, which can release them. And vice versa: if a person under stress will eat a sufficient amount of phospholipids, Cooking oil. Splash isolated on white. With clipping path., The production of cortisol will decrease, because its function of “collecting” phospholipids in the body will not be in demand.
Esters of cholesterol are peculiar “carriers” of phospholipids and other unsaturated fatty acids. Roughly speaking, without cholesterol esters, cortisol will not be able to “get” phospholipids, even if a person actively uses the latter. In view of this, it can be said that the production of cortisol will decrease not only in the presence of phospholipids in the blood, but in the presence of cholesterol esters.
Strictly speaking, a person rarely suffers from cholesterol esters. They are formed due to a long chain of biochemical reactions in the liver, and their release requires, first, certain proteins, and second, naturally, cholesterol. Both squirrels and cholesterol get any average person with food: without these elements, its existence is simply impossible. However, there is one “but”: cholesterol esters are released faster when there is a lot of the corresponding group of proteins, and more slowly when specifically these proteins are lacking.
Thus, we come to the conclusion that not only phospholipids and cholesterol esters, but also certain proteins are needed to reduce cortisol, otherwise cholesterol esters will not have time to be produced at a sufficient rate to get phospholipids and the adrenal glands will continue to synthesize cortisol for phospholipid extraction. If we don’t go into complex details about accessory proteins and their other varieties, we can say that the proteins required to accelerate the production of cholesterol esters are vegetable proteins.
Physiology of stress: amaranth against cortisol
In 2011, the Ukrainian scientist, doctor of agricultural sciences Svetlana Tsekhmistrenko expressed the hypothesis that amaranth can have a noticeable therapeutic effect on stresses that do not require substantial physical activity, because:
a) is a leader among the grain in the content of the necessary plant proteins;
b) contains a large number of phospholipids, as well as phytosterols, accelerating the process of absorption of phospholipids;
c) contains a certain amount of cholesterol, which, in combination with the necessary plant proteins in the same product, should accelerate the production of cholesterol esters in the liver and increase the activity of phospholipids, which, in turn, should lead to a sharp decrease in cortisol at all stages of stress.
Together with her colleagues at the base of the Belotserkovsky National Agrarian University, she conducted a corresponding study, which resulted in the “Bulletin of Agrarian Science of the Black Sea Region” published the article “The Effect of Amaranth Seeds on the Body Under Experimental Stress” ( , “The Newsletter of the Agricultural Science of the Black Sea Region”, issue 4, v. 2, part 2).
The study was conducted on birds – quail. They were divided into 4 groups, 60 birds each. Quail-and-chicks The first group of birds was the control. To the birds of the second group, in order to model stress conditions in the body, sodium nitrate was introduced from the third day of life – the so-called sodium or Chilean nitrate, which in a matter of time provokes the production of cortisol and provokes the same reactions as under normal stress. Actually, sodium nitrate in the same amount as the second group was administered to the third and fourth group of quails. Amaranth seeds were added to the third group only, and the fourth group was completely transferred to amaranth.
The main purpose of the study was to find out which fats and in what quantities are observed under stress in the blood of birds that used amaranth and did not use it. The secondary goal was to determine the productivity of quails that consumed amaranth under stress and did not consume.
The results were as follows.
Sodium nitrate is expected to increase the phospholipid content of all three groups of birds that received it, since this production was launched by cortisol. However, in the second group, which received the usual feed, the level of phospholipids was almost 3 points higher than the level of phospholipids in the first group, which did not receive sodium nitrate. And in the third and fourth groups, the level of phospholipids was about the same as that of the first group (in the third group, it was half a point higher than the fourth).
In other words, in the body of birds that were given a stress catalyst (sodium nitrate) and who ate feed with amaranth, the level of stress hormone was the same as in birds that did not receive sodium nitrate, i.e., they were not under stress. At the same time, birds that were injected with sodium nitrate and who did not use amaranth had an increased level of stress compared with a group that did not receive sodium nitrate (which is logical). The first and second groups ate the same food without amaranth.
Also, the dependence of the stress state on amaranth is traced by the example of the third and fourth groups. The third received a smaller amount of amaranth, and the stress level turned out to be slightly higher compared to the fourth, which was used mainly by amaranth.
In addition, it turned out that amaranth really significantly accelerates the production of cholesterol esters. In the first and second groups, the content of these elements was almost 4 points lower than in the third and fourth groups, which ate amaranth.
In addition, amaranth directly reduces cholesterol (saturated fats, which are harmful in the language of nutritionists). Thus, in the second group, the cholesterol level exceeded by 1 point the level of cholesterol in the first group, which is natural, since stress provoked an increase in this unhealthy fat in the blood (later this fat, if not consumed in a stressful situation, will be deposited in the form of subcutaneous stores – classical obesity stress). In the third and fourth groups, which fed on amaranth, the level of cholesterol decreased not only compared to the second group, which was under stress and amaranth did not eat, it decreased even compared to the first group, which was not under stress. So, if the first group had cholesterol level fluctuated at the level of 14, and the second group – at the level of 15, then at the third and fourth it slightly exceeded 10. This proves once again that amaranth is a very effective means for losing weight.
Below is a table of the results of the study of Svetlana Tsekhmistrenko, which shows the exact data on the content of different groups of fats in the body of birds of the first, second, third and fourth groups:
In addition, the researcher concluded that the constant use of amaranth under stress leads to the formation of adaptation mechanisms in the body. In other words, when using amaranth, the body becomes accustomed to the fact that even under stress, cortisol should not be produced in large quantities, since free phospholipids and other elements necessary for stress are already there. In contrast, with a lack of phospholipids, the level of the hormone produced will increase every day the stress state, since the body will believe that the hormone produced is not enough.
Amaranth against stress: conclusion and general recommendations
Fats in the human body tend to “compete” with each other. For example, some fats absorb atherosclerotic plaques in the vessels, which are also fats, but belong to another group. Other groups of fats, being in the body, tend to integrate into the cell membranes before the third group of fats manage to do this. In the first case, absorbable fats are a kind of medicine for the body – eliminate unnecessary and even harmful neoplasms (the very plaques) that appeared from an excess of more dense fats. In the second case, fats, which try to integrate before others, are more optimal building material for the cell, but in their absence, the body has to use the group of fats, which is built in more slowly. And so on.
In some cases, as in the cell example, fats are interchangeable. In some – no. In particular, the action of phospholipids in the fight against the effects of the release of cortisol can not be replaced, so it is important to pay special attention to them.
Today, there are even drugs with amaranth, designed to reduce nervousness and improve human performance. In the strict sense, they are all biologically active additives, in which amaranth oil, as a rule, performs the role of the active substance. The effectiveness of such products is quite comparable with the effectiveness of well-known anti-stress drugs, sold without a prescription, since amaranth-on-spoon-1296×728 the latter also usually have vegetable components or, in extreme cases, artificially synthesized substances that have analogues in nature. components. Perhaps, drugs based on natural herbal ingredients are a bit more effective and safe compared to drugs based on analogues of herbal ingredients. Therefore, biological supplements from amaranth are more preferable than weak anti-stress pills.
But what really turns out to be stronger and bioactive supplements with amaranth, and tablets – so this is amaranth itself in its pure form. According to the initial hypothesis of Svetlana Tsekhmistrenko, amaranth can contribute to reducing the level of stress due to the presence of all the necessary substances in one product. This statement has the following basis. Splitting food in the stomach does not occur at the same speed: something is digested and absorbed faster, something – more slowly. Simultaneous absorption of phospholipids and protein will produce a greater effect than, for example, the use of phospholipids at 8 o’clock in the morning, and protein – after half an hour, an hour, or even more, a few hours.
In other words, amaranth is initially a complex of substances necessary to reduce cortisol and reduce stress, while the individual components, such as amaranth fats (oil), proteins, etc., are only elements of such a complex and therefore are taken separately , will not be able to act to the same extent as the complex.
In view of the above, people who want to reduce stress with amaranth have two options:
Use in time periods, ensuring the best digestibility of food (usually on an empty stomach), amaranth in its grain form – in the form of seeds, soaked cereals, porridges, etc. It is permissible to add a certain amount of pure protein, but in no case of fast-digesting carbohydrates.
Use at the same time amaranth oil with vegetable proteins. These are mainly other high-protein cereals, as well as mushrooms and legumes.
Also, when dealing with stress, it is important to exclude from the menu as much as possible of dense fats and fast-absorbing carbohydrates – sweets, butter and margarine, bread and bakery products, sausages, cheap cheeses, semi-finished products. At the same time, if a person gets a lot of pleasure from sweets, in the process of dealing with stress in no case can one rule it out completely, otherwise due to the lack of dopamine, stress may increase. Here it would be advisable to switch to more beneficial types of sweets or is a favorite, but little by little. Movement in the open air, as a rule, enhances the effect.
But, of course, we must not forget that such measures of struggle are good when stress is moderately strong and short-lived. Specialist intervention will be required to eliminate depression and severe stress. However, in this case, movement and proper nutrition will lead to faster recovery.