In the modern living of today, we are subjected to stress in one form or another. We have come to accept stress as “ just a part of everyday life”. As a result, we do not normally take it too seriously.
Stress is the body’s normal, healthy response to threat. In a survival situation, the brain tells the body to pump massive amount of 2 types of hormone: epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones channel energy to the muscle, increase blood flow and blood pressure, speed up thinking to help us escape from the threat.
This stress response mechanism helps us to survive danger and then shut down. It is not meant to be switched on 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. But our modern-day living, job demand, recession, traffic is causing the 2 stress hormones to be regularly flowing in our body.
At high levels, epinephrine and cortisol cause damages to the body:
- Increased blood pressure, causing damage to the blood vessels and heart muscle, leading to heart and kidney diseases.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, diarrhea or constipation
- Reduced immunity, increasing the risk of infection.
- In serious case, insomnia and depression.
While we cannot avoid stress, we can take steps to manage it through proper nutrition and eating the right food. In this way, we can prepare our body to fight the damaging effect of stress.
Here are 5 key nutrients that will help you fight stress.
1) Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B is destroyed by alcohol, refined sugar, nicotine and caffeine. There are 8 vitamin B and out of which 4 are important for stress management.
- Vitamin B6 helps to promote sleep.
- Vitamin B12 is part of the neurotransmitter helping with memory and alertness
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine ) helps the body to convert glucose to energy, alleviating fatigue and anxiety.
- Vitamin B5 ( Pantothenic acid ) deficiency can lead to depression.
You can get vitamin B from liver, potato, banana, lentil, eggs, tuna, vegetables and turkey.
Stress produces a lot of free radicals that cause damages in the cells. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.
Green tea is one of the most powerful antioxidants. For more information on antioxidants, check out my earlier post.
3) Amino Acid ( Tryptophan )
Tryptophan helps to calm the brain and induce sleep by triggering the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. A good night sleep helps the body to repair and rejuvenate the cells.
Meat, milk, cheese are food that are high in tryptophan. That is why you feel sleepy after eating these food. Therefore, it is better to eat these food in dinner rather than lunch.
4) Omega 3-Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is the building block of brain cell membrane and protective layer of nerve cells. Hence, it is important for memory, thinking ability and overall brain function.
A study tested on the intelligence score of infants fed with milk containing omega 3-fatty acid developed higher scores in mental development.
Food rich in omega 3-fatty acids are oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Chronic intake of refine sugar leads to chromium deficiency. This can affect blood sugar metabolism, which can affect energy level, contributing to fatigue.
Food rich in chromium are sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, corn, oysters and shellfish.
With our busy lifestyle, it is not easy to obtain enough of the above nutrients from natural food source. Therefore, taking supplements regularly in small doses goes a long way to busting the stress.
Do you have other ways to manage stress? Please share and comment.
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