Part 3 of 4
One of the most practical things you can do to help yourself with stress and anxiety is to nourish your cells. They depend on you to look after them so they in turn can do their job for you and keep you healthy and happy. While the key to beating stress is to discover its cause and find ways of reducing or living with this source, regular good nutrition helps the body to cope with at least some of its negative effects.
Eat very well, regular meals and preferably home cooked so as to avoid nasty preservatives, additives, sweeteners etc which burden the liver, digestive system and adrenals. The better your food intake the more nutrients your body has to support your hormonal, endocrine, nervous and adrenal systems which keep your body calming functioning well.
Whatever the source of stress, physical or emotional, the body reacts by pumping out adrenaline, a hormone which itself triggers a cascade of other hormonal and nervous responses to sweep through the body preparing us to either fight or flee.
Although the majority of today’s stresses require no rapid physical action, our bodies still respond in this ancient and time honoured way.
Physical stress, for which these reactions are primarily useful, are usually short lived, after which hormone levels return to normal and the nervous system returns to a less heightened state.
Today’s lifestyles can sometimes be associated with long-term mental stress and this may cause the body to be in a stress-responsive mode , anxious state for long periods of time.
During stressful periods the body’s immune system is on high alert and therefore burning up nutrients at a faster rate. If the body is not nourished at this time the nutrient reserves can be very quickly depleted and the body’s metabolism can be put under strain.
One possible effect is a follow- on effect on the immune system; lowering its defences and potentially leaving us more exposed to picking up infections and illnesses.
To make adrenaline, vitamin C and B Vitamins are required. When adrenaline levels are raised over long periods of stress, more vitamin C is needed. We cannot synthesise Vitamin C or all of the B vitamins therefore we must rely on diet for these essential nutrients. If this is not achieved, through eating plenty of vitamin C rich foods like oranges, kiwi fruit, berries, peppers, potatoes and broccoli, some parts of the body, like the immune system, may be left wanting.
Research reveals that a lack of vitamin C reduces the activity of macrophages, immune cells that literally eat up invading bacteria and viruses. Fewer machrophages make us more prone to picking up colds and flu, which may in turn strain vitamin C resources still further.
When exposed to long term stress it is wise to further bolster the immune system by keeping topped up with plenty of foods rich in beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) such as carrots, deep green coloured vegetables and yellow and orange fruits.
Regular intake of vitamins C and A as well as folic acid ,zinc and vitamin D are vital for a functional immune system to help defend against infections. Folic acid is found in black-eyed beans, spinach and other green leafy vegetables while good sources of zinc include crab, oysters, wheat germ, liver, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and red meat.
See you next week for part 4..the best calming nutrient ever!
Gertrude Lawler, Health for life practitioner, Food technologist, Natural Juice Therapist practices in CLANE. Enquiries or to obtain FREE ‘Anxiety Busting Steps’ please contact Tel:086-3888535 or Email: Gertrude@kinesicare.ie www.gertrudelawler.com