Natural Nutrition to Help When Stress Takes Over
This article was kindly contributed by College of Naturopathic Medicine graduate Jacqueline Ryan.
Stress is a reaction to a physical, mental, social, or emotional stimulus. Today, most of our stresses are not the result of the physical stresses that our ancestors would have experienced, but the body still responds the same, triggering an initial reaction to prepare the body for impending danger. This ‘fight or flight’ response causes our adrenal glands to release adrenaline and other stress hormones to provide an instant burst of energy and strength. This might sound helpful, but triggered by every day, modern encounters, this can become chronic. And chronic stress depletes our nutrient and energy reserves creating an overall state of exhaustion.
Stress hormones including cortisol, interfere with immune, digestion and reproduction systems, sleep, sex drive and the ability to produce essential hormones. It can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat and inflammation. Our mental ability may be impaired or disrupted, resulting in fear and negative beliefs or anxiety. Stress is linked to many other conditions including cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. Indeed stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it can be managed by introducing nutritional daily support.
Eat foods high in B-vitamins and calcium, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, almonds, beans, whole grains, dark leafy greens, sea vegetables, meat, and fish for proper functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular system.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, eggs, walnuts, chia, hemp and flaxseeds, prevent surges in stress hormones.
Eat protein (nuts, seeds, oily fish, meat, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa) with every meal to balance blood sugar levels and support stress response.
Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
Increase magnesium rich foods like spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, fig, and banana to promote relaxation, support the nervous and cardiovascular systems and eradicate nervousness and anxiety.
Eat a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, for valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including vitamin C to support the immune system, neutralize dangerous free radicals, and reduce physical and mental responses to stress.
Chamomile and lemon balm teas offer a gentle nerve tonic, soothing to the digestive tract and aiding sleep.
Exercise to remove stress hormones from the body through action and bring your body back to a state of equilibrium.
Use massage and deep breathing to activate a calming response, de-sensitizing the stress triggers, and inhibits the body from becoming hyper alert.
CNM trains students for careers in a range of natural therapies, including Naturopathic Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture and Naturopathy. There are CNM colleges across Ireland, the UK, and in the US. www.naturopathy.ie
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