Nutrition for Stress – Nourish yourself for a Calmer Life

by Amina Eastham-Hillier

B HSc.Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, Diet & Nutrition, Flower Essences, & Iridology

It appears that the majority of us are coping (and sometimes not really coping) with a particularly heavy bundle of stress. As a working mother of two children, I can certainly relate to this and besides work itself, parenting alone (as much as we love it) can push us to all limits.

There IS just so much going on.

The Healthy Physical Effects of Stress

Minimal ‘stress’ can be beneficial by creating challenges and keeping us motivated to reach our goals. However once our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in we need to allow our body to calm and rebalance in order to maintain a healthy homeostasis. Chronic stress (that saber tooth savage that keeps on chasing us) will take its toll and unbalance many bodily functions and inevitably WILL lead to sickness.

Stress stimuli activate the hypothalamus in the brain affecting the sympathetic nervous system. This
produces adrenalin which increases our cardiovascular performance and stimulates cortisol from the adrenal gland. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory and aids the immune system as well as increases energy by raising glucose in the blood. This is all beneficial in dealing with stress however levels must be permitted to return to normal once the stress has passed.

If the Stress continues our body will kick into a ‘chronic response’ known as allostasis (a ‘changed’ state) to cope with stress. Our brains activity is heightened and we exert a huge amount of physiological energy to maintain balance resulting in anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, mood and sleep disorders, fatigue and guess what…..MORE stress. THIS is when our tolerance is low e.g. the straw that broke the camels back, the icing on the cake etc.

If one continues further into this state, one can expect the functions of the endocrine (hormones), cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems to be compromised leading to an array of pathologies.

Phew… glad that’s over with….. Now what to do…….

Tips to achieve a ‘stress free’ time (or to recuperate) :

My Number one is always good nutrition to ensure we get all the nutrients we need to keep our brain neurotransmitters balanced. Enjoy an abundance of organic eggs, fresh fruit and veggies, garlic, beans and legumes.

Essential fatty acids are ‘good’ fats in fresh fish, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seed oil (from linseeds) etc. These foods are also rich in Magnesium, Calcium and B Vitamins.

Magnesium is essential for more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and plays a major role in our nervous system. If you get twitchy eyes and cramps, this maybe a sign of deficiency.

Zinc and essential fatty acids are often low and depleted in males due to high stress and are two of the deficiencies causing infertility.

B Vitamins These are one the first group of
nutrients to be used up in times of stress or anxiety. They are the spark plugs of our bodies and provide energy by acting with enzymes to convert CHO (carbohydrate) to glucose.

B vitamins are present in most of your leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and liver. At times of high stress I recommend take a supplement professionally prescribed by a natural practitioner.

Vitamin C Another one of those nutrients that becomes depleted a lot faster during times of stress and anxiety. Used up in as little as 2 hours so we need to ensure we eat high Vitamin C foods through the day especially if we are on the go all the time. The best sources are:  Mango, kiwi fruit, capsicum, rosehips (tea), pawpaw, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, parsley and dark leafy greens.

Drink Filtered Water (up to 2 litres a day) and especially rehydrate if you consume any alcohol.

Exercise as much as 30 minutes a day and the movement will ease any stress.

Herbal Medicine, Nutritional Supplements, Counseling & Flower Essences are all great remedies to treat the effects of stress.

See a professional Naturopath or Herbalist for more guidance.
Despite the jungle out there we CAN remain calm and healthy. Chill, rest, stop and breathe sometimes, get enough sleep, talk to friends or counselors, see a naturopath for any health issues, get fit and tone up.  Meditate or learn how to, play music, use aromatherapy oils, do yoga, have a massage, laugh, and play, go for a walk, smell the roses, look up (I mean really look) at  our beautiful country and LOVE Life.

P.s It is very normal and not too detrimental to be stressed for short periods but if you keep being stressed it WILL affect your health. Even I have to stop and make myself do these points above, so thank you for letting me remind myself too.
© Amina Eastham-Hillier

By | 2017-01-16T16:52:22+00:00 July 29th, 2014|Articles, Healthy Living, Nutrition|0 Comments

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