Stress Depletes the Body of Nutrients
The body’s response to a stress is to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare the body for what has been termed the fight-or-flight syndrome. This occurs when the body creates a surge of energy to fuel itself for a battle or quick escape (for example, moving out of the way of an oncoming car). Our heart rate increases, blood pressure increases, muscles contract and the body searches for fuel to use as an energy source. When this state of stress is prolonged, the body eventually depletes its resources and enters into a stage of exhaustion.
What most people don’t know about stress:
It doesn’t matter what type of stress you experience. The body reacts the same to all types of stress; whether it’s emotional, physical, mental, or chemical. It doesn’t matter if you are in a car accident, giving a speech to a large audience, watching a scary movie, having an argument, losing your car keys, or having a baby. It all registers the same.
The body was not designed to be in a chronic or continuous state of stress and what eventually happens is a domino effect with our body systems. Damage occurs to our adrenal and thymus glands, the immune system gets overwhelmed, toxins and bacteria grow without regulation, food does not get digested properly and nutrients don’t get absorbed or get depleted. The management of stress requires magnesium to be pulled from our cells, calcium to be stolen from our bones and depletes the body of B vitamins. Stress that goes unmanaged can cause all kinds of symptoms and disease: chest pain, cancer, constipation, eczema, high blood pressure, IBS, joint pain, neck and back pain, ulcers, PMS, psoriasis, sexual problems and weight loss/gain just to name a few.
Becoming Your Own Expert:
The Solution: The two most effective ways to combat stress is with diet and mood altering activities.
Diet: Oxidants are the byproducts of stress management. The term oxidative stress is used when we have a high quantity of these oxidants in our bodies. In order to combat this condition, nature has provided us with the perfect superhero: antioxidants. Antioxidants are these amazing chemical compounds that have the unique ability of being able to attach themselves to harmful oxidants and neutralize them. So when the body is in a state of oxidative stress, we can prevent cell damage (thereby warding off illness, disease, accelerated aging) by consuming foods that contain potent antioxidants in the form of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and bioflavanoids. Below is a list of the most common and most accessible antioxidants and their food sources.
- Vitamin A – is made in the body from beta-carotene which is a phyto-nutrients that is found in yellow, red, and orange fruits and vegetables; Food sources: beef liver, carrots, watercress, cabbage, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli and tangerines
- Vitamin C – a water soluble nutrient that is exceptionally good at de-arming oxidants because it can donate electrons to neutralize oxidants; this is why squeezing lemon juice on fruits salads and apples is effective as a way to prevent them from turning brown or oxidizing; Food sources: bell peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, kiwi, oranges, grapefruits, limes and tomatoes
- Vitamin E – this vitamin is fat soluble and has powerful antioxidant properties; Food sources: wheat germ oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tuna, salmon and sweet potatoes
- Selenium – this mineral’s antioxidant properties help to protect against free radicals and carcinogens; Food sources: tuna, oysters, cottage cheese, cabbage, beef liver, and cod
- Carotenoids – are natural pigments found in red, green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
- Bioflavonoids – these pigmentations come in those fruits and vegetables that are blue, purple, and deep red in color
- Dark Chocolate – yes, this is not a typo; dark chocolate has more antioxidant power than a bowl of blueberries, thanks to the bioflavonoids in chocolate
Most important nutrient needed to combat stress: B vitamins…water soluble nutrients that depend on each other’s presence in order to be most effective at helping to maintain a healthy nervous system and combat stress; Food sources: eggs, legumes, watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, bananas, squash, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, brussel sprouts and onions; B12 Food sources: clams, oysters, sardines, tuna, liver, lamb, eggs, shrimp, cottage cheese, turkey and chicken.