The De-Stress Effect Glossary of Terms – A-E

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A-E  Active rest/ relaxation to Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)

The De-Stress Effect cover without endorsement rgbActive rest/ relaxation  

Deliberate forms of deep relaxation that induce beta-waves in the brain to bring on deep recovery, reminding us that rest isn’t only about sleep. Examples include gentle restorative yoga, guided meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness training as well as biofeedback, self-hypnosis and even daydreaming. Adequate rest – from stressful work commitments, from exercise, from family, from social life, from everything –  is mandatory in order that your body and mind can recover adequately from the stressors you face every day.  


The hormone released from the adrenal glands that sets off the ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response. It is purely reactive and keeps us in a state of agitation and arousal, resulting in using up energy and nutrients quickly.

Adrenal glands

Glands that are located one on top of each kidney and produce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.


Immune system reactions that set off ageing inflammation and can be provoked by foods or environmental factors. These differ to intolerances as are immediate and remain throughout life, with a different antibody – IgE – provoked in the reaction.

Amino acids

The 22 ‘building blocks’ of protein which we break down from protein foods. 8 are essential, so we cannot make them and must derive them from food to keep bone, skin and muscles repaired. Others may be ‘conditionally essential’ where stress and illness may impair our ability to produce them.


Substances from food and made in the liver that stop the ageing, damaging and inflammatory effects of ‘free radicals’. These are found in substances like toxins and pollutants, as well as the ‘exhaust’ bi-products of increased energy production from stress and exercise.

B vitamins/ B Complex vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins found in plant and animal foods, used up quickly by stress as they are needed to create energy, neurotransmitters and hormones.

‘Bad’ stressors  

Types of stress that make us fat, unhealthy and old before our time. They are chronic and ongoing, usually involve ruminating or judging ourselves over mistakes or events and they’re out of our control.  Examples include living in a bad marriage, feeling no control over your work, lack of downtime and over-exercise for more than 90 minutes at a time more than three times a week. Any reaction can become a ‘bad’ stressor when we do not get adequate rest and recovery after.

Bioflavonoid/ flavonoid

Types of antioxidants that have shown to have positive effects on our immune system responses, even helping to reduce intolerances, allergies, inflammation and microbes.


Natural opioid-like substances naturally produced as ‘feel-good’ chemicals in response to laughter, socialising and sex. Too low levels can result in raising them from substances like sugar and stimulants.


Embryonic plant pods (also known as legumes and pulses) that are high in lectins that may cause inflammatory responses in the body. Avoided on true hunter-gatherer diets, traditional cooking methods long and slow with onions and garlic help break down these anti-nutrients. They include beans (soy, pinto, chickpea, mung, aduki, black, cannellini, etc.), peas, green beans, French beans, peanuts, ground nuts, pine nuts, flours like soy flour, gram flour, lentil flour in poppadoms, all flours and ‘milks’ from these.

Blood-sugar balance

The regulation of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream to be used in all cells as energy in a sustained and moderated rate. An imbalance as a result of high sugar and/or stress results in blood-sugar ‘highs and lows’ and imbalances of energy, mood, sleep patterns and weight. Poor balance is associated with sugar cravings, use of stimulants and poor appetite control.


The stimulatory substance found in tea, coffee, chocolate and colas, which can have an excitory and agitatory effect on the nervous and hormonal systems. It raises metabolism through its thermogenic effect, but can have a negative impact on energy, sleep and blood-sugar regulation.


The basis of all plant foods (vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts and seeds), which break down into the simple sugars we use for fuel. Best for health when eaten in those original complex forms rather than as refined sugars in sweet foods. Our ancestors would have eaten these as about 65% of their total diet, mainly as vegetable matter, fruit and nuts.


Chemical oily pigments that give fruit and vegetables their yellow/red/orange colours, they are antioxidants that protect fats in the body eg in skin, brain and heart.


An essential fatty substance that we use to make certain hormones, vitamin D and new cells – we both make in the liver and eat in animal origin foods. An imbalance or too much is associated with heart disease, but some experts now believe that inflammation is at the root of this risk.

Chronic stress

The state and effects of ‘constant alert’ from increased, prolonged stress reactions and emotional, psycho-social pressure.


The system by which the blood flows to all parts of the body, pumped by the heart and delivering vital, rejuvenating oxygen and nutrients to all cells.


The steroid stress hormone produced naturally when we get up to motivate us and release energy when blood-sugar levels are low after sleep. It can be raised above its natural cycle eg in the evening as a result of chronic stress or inappropriately timed stimulation. Too high levels are associated with fat storage, middle-weight gain and stress-related symptoms like insomnia, anxiety and poor concentration.

Cruciferous vegetables

Those in the brassicas family like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, mustard greens, collards and kale that are high in sulphur compounds (glucosinolates) that support detoxification and immunity. When eaten raw however, they can have a negative ‘goitregenic’ effect on the thyroid gland.


The process in the liver and all individual cells by which harmful and ageing toxins from food, the environment and our own body processes, are broken down and eliminated. The full process involves elimination of toxics via healthy bowel movements.


Milk and foods derived from milk, such as cheese and yoghurt. Usually refers to cow’s milk, although can also come from sheep and goats. Not part of a hunter-gatherer diet as only entered the human diet after the advent of farming, it is associated with inflammation and negative digestive reactions, with the majority of people believed to be intolerant. 

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

The anti-stress hormone that opposes cortisol to help create calm. It is associated with optimal adrenal and thyroid function and levels kept healthy by laughter and relaxation. 


The process by which we breakdown, absorb and assimilate the food we eat to derive the nutrients that we need to sustain all body functions. This full process is compromised by stress, where energy and nutrients are redirected to the brain and muscles. 


The mood and motivation neurotransmitter or brain chemical that is associated with addictive cycles, produced in the brain as a ‘reward’ in response to sugar, alcohol and other addictive substances. Shown to be lowered by stress. 

Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)

Also known as calorific afterburn is your fat-burning best friend.  EPOC refers to the metabolism-increasing effect that strenuous activity has on your body immediately – and up to four hours – after you have done it.