Earlier this week, I talked about the stress response that we all experience from time to time. As you learned, there are many diseases that are closely related to chronic stress levels and what the stress does to our internal balance. So, let’s all make an effort to lower our stress through our lifestyle and diet decisions.
Despite increased cravings for salt, sugar and carbs, focusing on nutrition is extremely important during stressful situations. The following nutrients are beneficial for someone who is experiencing short-term or chronic stress:
Vitamin C: Improves the capacity of the adrenal glands to adapt to stress; normalizes cortisol levels; increases immunity; acts as a powerful antioxidant. Food sources: fresh fruits and vegetables.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1): Provides energy; protects the nervous system and the heart. Food sources: Calf’s liver, nuts, brewer’s yeast.
Magnesium: Helps reduce cortisol levels after exercise; also known to help with strong chocolate cravings (many who crave chocolate are actually deficient in magnesium). Food sources: Nuts and seeds, leafy greens, salmon.
Zinc: Normalizes adrenal metabolism; important for bone health and immunity. Food sources: Calf’s liver, oysters, shellfish, beef, seeds.
Calcium: Deficiency associated with elevated cortisol production; critical nutrient in metabolism. Food sources: Dairy, leafy greens.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Used in many metabolic processes including energy production. Food sources: Calf’s liver, leafy greens, seafood.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): Used in energy production; plays a central role in adrenal-cortex function and cellular metabolism; sometimes known as the “anti-stress” vitamin. Food sources: Calf’s liver, egg yolk, fresh vegetables.
As you incorporate these important nutrients into your anti-stress diet, remember to eliminate foods that strain your adrenals and internal balance: caffeine, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, sodium, refined sugars, and any foods you may be allergic to.
In addition to focusing on good nutrition while under stress, don’t forget about the other lifestyle practices that can help significantly with stress reduction. Regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and taking time for yourself each day are all extremely beneficial. Even just taking a few deep breaths when you feel yourself getting worked up can really make a difference.
Enjoy the weekend!