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Holistic-online.com stress-management

[Stress Home Page][Holistic-online Home]

Nutrition

Balanced nutrition is essential to maintaining overall good health, but it also can affect your capacity to cope with stress. When you are going through a period of stress, you need more of all nutrients, particularly the B vitamins, which affect the nervous system, and calcium, which is needed to counteract the lactic acid your tense muscles produce. Likewise, if you are lacking nutrients, your body will not be equipped to handle stress effectively.

Eat a variety of foods to ensure that you consume all of the forty to sixty nutrients you need to stay healthy. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids (from proteins), essential fatty acids (from vegetable oil and animal fat), and energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. While most foods contain more than one nutrient, no single food provides adequate amounts of all nutrients. More information on your daily vitamin and mineral requirements can be found here.

Try to maintain a diet of mostly whole (unprocessed) foods. Stay away from caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate), which causes nervousness and inhibits sleep if too much is ingested. Caffeine causes a fight-or- flight response in your body and uses up your reserves of the B vitamins, which are important in coping with stress. Alcohol also depletes your body's B vitamins, and can disrupt sleep and impair your judgment or clarity of thought. Avoid sugar. It provides no essential nutrients and can cause an immediate "high" followed by a prolonged "low." Please refer to our diet section for more information.

Studies have shown that the body depletes its stores of nutrients when under stress, mainly protein and the B vitamins as well as vitamins C and A. A deficiency of magnesium, which helps muscles relax, has been linked to "Type A" or high-stress personalities. If you are under prolonged stress or are at risk for hypertension, consume foods high in potassium, such as orange juice, squash, potatoes, apricots, limes, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and peaches. You also should increase your intake of calcium, which is found in yogurt, cheese, tofu, and chick- peas.

If you find that you have difficulty managing stress and often feel fatigued or stressed out, you might want to examine your diet for deficiencies in certain nutrients.   If you are deficient in certain nutrients, you will need to alter your diet or take supplements.

Since every person is unique, nutritional needs vary to some degree. It will probably take several months to change your diet and establish healthy eating habits. Experimenting and taking the time to reform your eating will have very positive immediate and long- term effects. Choose foods that you enjoy and try to make meals pleasurable times. Eat a relaxed meal. Continue your healthy diet and supplements even after the period of stress has passed so that your body will be best prepared to cope with the next stressful situation you encounter. The goal is to maintain maximum health with good nutrition, exercise, and active stress management.

Related Topics: Holisticonline Nutrition Section

                        Vitamin/Mineral for Stress

                        Diet for Stress

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