Did you know that stress can be deadly? While most of the everyday stress experienced from time to time by most of us is not dangerous in and of itself, prolonged periods of stress have been known to cause serious health problems.
Stress is caused by many factors and affects everyone a bit differently. Because there are so many variables at play, each individual will have better success with certain strategies than others. Learning to recognize stress is the first step in the process of finding a way to deal with and reduce it.
Although there are many techniques that can and should be used to effectively deal with stress, one that helps nearly every time is improved dietary nutrition. In fact, some people find that dealing with this one area of their daily routine completely eliminates their stress. In situations where the stress is caused by factors other than current dietary habits, maintaining a healthy diet is mandatory to prevent further damage.
So what exactly is proper nutrition and how does it relate to stress? Nutrition provides the body with various vitamins and minerals which have certain effects on bodily functions. Mood, which is certainly related to stress, is controlled by a chemical released in the body called serotonin. It is crucial that this chemical remain in proper balance or mood fluctuations will occur, resulting in greater stress levels.
In order to maintain a balance of serotonin it is wise to include healthy carbohydrate selections as well as foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid used by the body to produce serotonin, in the diet. Examples of healthy carbohydrates include brown rice and other whole grains, sweet potatoes, squash and green veggies such as broccoli. Turkey is one of the best sources of tryptophan with eggs and nuts being good choices as well.
If we are honest with ourselves, we know what we should be eating. Make a conscious effort to include several fruits and vegetables with each meal and consume plenty of lean protein, whole grains and fresh water. Avoid things like fast food, sodas and sugar-laden foods. In the event you do eat one of these less desirable choices, take note of how you feel after eating it. You’ll undoubtedly find that you don’t feel quite as well as you do when your plate includes healthier selections.
That is not to say there is no place in a healthy diet for the occasional treat but such foods should be eaten in moderation and combined with more healthful foods to minimize the damage they cause. When eaten in combination with better choices they will not have the harmful effect on mood and stress levels as they would if consumed on their own.
While diet by itself will not solve every issue related to stress, it will provide a foundation of strength with which to fight back.