How can you improve your body’s handling of stress through daily nutrition?
Medical researchers have long established a strong link between the body’s stress response and the way a person chooses to nourish his body.
Obviously, if you’re always eating fast food and fatty, high-calorie food your body will not be very happy with the excess salt, fat and preservatives present in your diet.
Today’s blog post will center on easy and practical tips to boost your body’s resistance against the physical impact of chronic stress. These tips are based on what is known so far of the body’s nutritional requirements as well as how our bodies react to certain kinds of food.
Boost your body’s natural ability to manage physiological stress?
The first thing that you have to remember is that everything that goes into your body has a small impact on your overall health.
Over time, those small impacts become a big impact and will have an overall good or bad effect on your health and well being. This is called “impact magnification”
A good example of this would be the effects of smoking tobacco. Everyone knows smoking kills, but you won’t die immediately after smoking just one. You probably won’t exhibit any negative effect after smoking thousands of cigarettes either. However, the combined negative impact of all that tobacco will manifest in one form or another after smoking for 10-20 years.
Stress works a lot like other harmful habits (think smoking or drinking alcohol).
You may not feel the effects immediately, but in due time, your body is going to let you know that it’s physically suffering.
Here are some excellent tips to combat stress through the food that you eat:
1. Increase Your Intake of Complex Carbohydrates – Complex carbohydrates are excellent for managing stress because they are broken down more slowly by the body which then ensures that you will have a much longer supply of energy.
You will feel fuller for a longer period of time and you will feel more energized, too. Complex carbohydrates can easily be sourced from food items such as whole grain cereals, brown rice and other grains such as quinoa.
2. Minimize Your Intake of Simple Carbohydrates – Simple carbohydrates have been linked to a more persistent stress response in both adults and children.
Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) present in most processed foods and commercial beverages are categorized as simple carbohydrates.
If you want to sweeten your tea or coffee, reach for stevia. (please, please, please, avoid artificial sweeteners!) or honey instead of regular table sugar. After weaning yourself off of sugar and fructose, you will feel more relaxed and ready to perform your daily tasks.
3. Have Sufficient Protein In Your Diet – Protein contains the essential building blocks needed by your body’s cells and tissues for growth and repair.
Your body needs a whole spectrum of amino acids derived from protein to stay healthy and strong enough to ward off the effects of stress.
Animal protein is always complete protein so eating a small serving per day is sufficient to supply your body with the amino acids that it needs.
If you’re vegan, be sure to eat a variety of protein-rich vegetables such as lima beans and white beans so your body will have a sufficient amount of protein for normal functioning.
4. Stock Up on Antioxidants – Antioxidants are natural compounds that occur in “colorful” fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants not only protect the body’s cells from oxidative damage and premature cellular deterioration due to free radicals, they also help reduce the physiological impact of stress, especially on the cardiovascular system.
Green tea is one of the richest sources of usable antioxidants so instead of drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages, drink green tea or black tea instead.
5. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods – Foods that are rich in potassium can help the body recuperate and recover from a stressful day.
Potassium not only regulates our heart’s normal muscular activity, it also helps in relaxing our voluntary muscles.
Fortified milk and bananas are inexpensive sources of potassium; be sure to have these two favorites in your fridge! Drinking milk before bedtime has also been linked with better sleep at night due to casein, a naturally occurring compound in cow’s milk.
6. Eat Smart – Your body will always let you know when you need to eat – so when you feel hungry, eat something. Just remember to make healthy choices with plenty of vegetables, low sugar fruits and appropriate amounts of protein.