A hot item today: stress. We all are busier than ever. Or so it feels to many. A busy job, a family, your social life, everything should run smoothly. And more importantly, everything should be fun. An image that’s created by means of different factors and we all try our hardest to achieve it. Whatever it takes. We’ve sustained it for as long as we could and it went but more and more people pay the price for it nowadays: a burnout. It’s public disease number one. Slowly we come to realise that such a perfect, pressure filled and always, fun life isn’t real. Awareness is an important first step to combat stress. Discover where the stress comes from. What factors are responsible? Paying attention to nutrition also important. As more and more surveys indicate that stress and depression are the result of a disruption in the body by nutritional deficiencies. In periods of stress, it’s advisable to pay some extra attention to healthy foods, so you don’t worsen the situation you’re in. Therefore, in this blog a number of nutrients which in peak periods deserve your attention.
Different surveys show a diet rich in fibre may help against stress and that a diet that’s rich in sugars can develop stress. An American team of specialists found the correlation. They examined circa 70.000 women who were followed for three years. Their dietary habits were examined in detail, in particular in regards to their consumption of carbohydrates (sugars), fibre and grain products. The results show; the higher the blood sugar, the more risk of stress and depression. The more whole grain products they ate, the better the women could cope with feelings like stress. Interesting right? Seems to me that in any case, it’s worth it to choose more whole grain cereal product and to eat more vegetables and fruits. Not only good for combatting stress, it’s also very healthy for the rest of your body.
Research on Omega 3 is done as well. American researchers divided 68 students in a supplementation and placebo group. In the supplementation group students were given Omega 3 rich capsules. Students in the placebo group were given a capsule in which the fatty acid composition was similar to that of a typical American diet (little to no Omega 3). They collected blood samples on days without stress and stressful exam days. What were the results? The students in the supplementation group had 14% less production of the stress protein in comparison to their fellow students in the placebo group. Dutch research studies show that Omega 3 can help prevent or reduce stress too. You’ll find Omega 3 in fatty fish, walnuts, green leafy vegetables and legumes, among other things. The Dutch Health Council advises 300 milligrams of Omega 3 for women and 350 milligrams for men.
Magnesium against stress
Research shows that people with a lot of stress (both mentally and physically) consume more magnesium than normal, allowing a decrease in your magnesium stock. A magnesium deficiency leads to more stress among other things.
More adrenaline will be given off which causes your body to remain in an alert state. Adrenaline narrows blood vessels, raises blood pressure and it lets the heart beat faster. More adrenaline means a greater loss of magnesium. Resulting in stress, depression, fatigue and headaches. You’ll find magnesium in legumes, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) and whole grains among other things. Stocking up on your magnesium, through your diet alone isn’t easy. This is because there’s no longer as much magnesium in our diet as there used to be. By intensive agriculture and the use of fertilizer magnesium is taken from the soil. Fortunately, there’s a solution too: magnesium in the form of a supplement. The Dutch Health Council advises 300 milligrams magnesium for women and 350 milligrams for men per day.
What’s true for the previous nutrients is also true for vitamins; in stressful times your body consumes more of them than normal. Different surveys show that a deficiency of vitamin B12 has a great effect on the psychological wellbeing of people, causing stress and anxiety. Finnish research shows a link between the level of vitamin B12 and the ability of a patient to combat symptoms of depression. A group of people, who took part in the research and got extra vitamin B12, seemed better equipped to deal with their feelings than those who didn’t take the extra B12. These vitamins can only be found in animal products such as dairy products, meat, meat products, fish and eggs. Therefore vegans are advised to take a vitamin supplement B12. The Dutch Health Council advises 2.8 micrograms per day.
Whether you’re experiencing stress or not, the above nutrients are, of course, important for everyone striving for good health. But in times of stress, these groups deserve some extra attention because they deplete sooner than normal.
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Mirte Gratama is guest blogger for blue®m. Her passion is health and she believes that a healthy lifestyle is feasible for everyone. She sees it as her mission to get people moving with practical and feasible tips. Mirte is author of The Health Guide; an accessible and well-organized booklet with workouts, recipes and personal articles and tips about a healthy lifestyle.