According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention up to 90 percent of doctor visits may be triggered by a stress-related illness. So it stands to reason that whether or not you’re off to the GP at every sign of illness, chances are pretty good you’re affected by stress. And – for the most part – the effects aren’t pretty. Anxiety, low energy, poor sleep quality, mood swings – these are the things we learn to live with on a daily basis. Telling ourselves it’s normal. That everyone feels this way.
Well common it might be, but normal it’s not. And if you don’t put steps into place to manage your stress right away then you’re setting yourself up for even bigger problems. There may not be an unbroken chain of cause and effect between stress and chronic disease, but the links are there. And that’s enough for me.
So how do you make stress management a stress-free part of your life? Well, you could quit work and take up the life of a government-handout couch-potato. Or head to the jungle with nothing but the clothes on your back. Or you could keep things simple and give your body the nutritional tools it needs to manage the most frantic and frenzied of lifestyle.
1. Vitamin B9 and B12 – well, actually, all 8 of the B vitamins are great for stress management, given that exposure to stress burns up existing B vitamins. This is particularly relevant if you suffer from anxiety or nervousness. Of all the B’s, my favorites are B9 and B12, reason being they contribute to everyday detoxification and ensure you properly assimilate your food into energy. You can find vitamin B9, otherwise known as folic acid, in beans and green vegetables, while vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, poultry, and dairy.
2. Antioxidants – the saviors of a stress-riddled body. Their job is to hunt down and destroy ‘free radicals’ which are unstable chemical bonds produced naturally by your body to improve immunity. However, they’re also produced as a response to environmental, chemical and lifestyle stress, which means you’re pretty much overrun by the darn things. This excess causes cell-by-cell damage and affects every element of your health. Antioxidants, which are extremely high in all berries, as well as legumes, dark chocolate, and even red wine, fight these damaging effects and can give you the energy you need to manage whatever may come your way.
3. Omega-3 – the lifeblood of a healthy body. Omega-3s (O-3) reduce inflammation (stress and inflammation are one and the same) and ensure a well-functioning metabolism. You can source O-3 from fatty fish such as sardines, herring, salmon, and also from flax seeds and walnuts. The only catch? Much of our fish is farmed, which reduces it’s nutritional quality, and most fish is chock-full of mercury, a toxic metal that has been linked with Alzheimer’s. Click here to find out how to get your O-3 the safe way, as well as to learn about just how powerful this stuff can be.
4. Vitamin C – prominant in red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers (capsicum), tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made from guava, grapefruit, and orange. A German study found that people with high levels of vitamin C not only fight both physical and psychological stress more effectively, but also bounce back from stressful situations far faster than their C-free counterparts.
5. Zinc – the foundation of all nutrients. Your body is incapable of adequately performing all metabolic function without sufficient zinc. This is because every vitamin and mineral you consume does its job more efficiently with the presence of zinc. If you’re zinc deficient then you are absolutely performing below par, and if you train with weights or are remotely busy in your day-to-day life then you deplete zinc every single day. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but red meat and poultry are also great sources, as are beans, nuts, crab, lobster (yum!), and dairy products.
You’ve heard about and no doubt believe in the benefits of preventative medicine, and these stress-fighting foods are certainly a prime example. So next time you visit your GP let it be for some sort of boring routine check-up, not as a last-ditch attempt to repair the ravages of a busy life plus poor nutrition.
And remember –
Life is Now. Press Play.
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