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7 Aug
2012
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Stressed Out? Then Just Eat Yourself Calm

I’m a great fan of using the mind, but when you are stressed out what you want is quick and easy stress-reduction, or maybe just something that gives you a boost. Brain chemistry is involved here, because stressed brains have different levels of neurotransmitters than peaceful brains. My position is that thoughts, beliefs and ideas are the cause of those changes in brain chemistry. But if changing your thinking is too much effort right now – and when you are stressed most things are too much effort. There are things you can eat that can help the brain chemistry along the right path and reduce the impact of stress on the body. This will help you stay younger and live longer.

Vitamin C helps with the reduction of stress, blood pressure and cortisol levels. So eat oranges. They taste much nicer that Vitamin C tablets, and are nicely messy so eating an orange is going to distract you from your worries for the time it takes to eat and wash up afterwards. But if stress is a more or less permanent state of affairs you might want to consider taking a high dose vitamin C supplement once or twice a day. It won’t taste as nice as the orange, but might keep your Vitamin C levels up so the stress symptoms stay under control.

Magnesium is an essential mineral. It’s good for your heart, your blood pressure, and is a muscle relaxant. Apricots are an easy source. Eat them fresh, or buy a packet of the dried sort to keep in your desk. Spinach is another good source of magnesium. You can also find a regular source of magnesium if you switch to eating bread made from whole grain wheat flour. Insufficient magnesium in the diet may be responsible for feelings of fatigue. Fatigue is a cause of stress.

Omega 3 in your diet lowers adrenaline and cortisol, so fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon are good – though probably not ideal for a snack, so make sure you pop some in your basket next time you visit the supermarket and look forward to a delicious meal at the end of a stressful day. If you are a vegetarian a good source of Omega 3 is flax seeds or walnuts. But if you don’t fancy that, as usual you can buy it in a tablet you can pick up alongside the vitamins and minerals. Though research suggests much better absorption into the blood when your Omega 3 comes in food rather than as a supplement.

Potassium is another essential for keeping blood pressure healthy. Bananas are frequently suggested as a plentiful source of potassium with around 450 mg. This is more than the recommended daily allowance, but just in case you don’t like bananas there’s plenty more potassium in beans, potatoes, avocados, and halibut. You can also get in canteloupes, meat, tomatoes, and citrus juice, so oranges give you double your money’s worth.

Vitamins are essential to our health and well-being. They are also good at looking after our bodies when they are subjected to stress. So watch out for vegetables with dark green leaves – full of vitamins and minerals – when you are out shopping. And yes, I know that means you have to cook them, but that helps too because you won’t be eating all of that unhealthy take-away, or pre-packed ready meal junk.

Buy yourself a variety of shelled nuts, and a stack of different kinds of dried fruits. They keep for ages. Then make up a mixture, pop it in a sandwich bag and stick it in your pocket or bag. When you are feeling stressed just tip a little of the mixture into the palm of your hand and munch away on a delicious, healthy snack filled with vitamins, minerals, and sugars to give you an energy boost, without spiking your blood sugar.

Eating your way to peace and tranquillity won’t solve all the challenges in your life, but it might give you a little breathing space and in that space, who knows, you might start to see solutions rather than problems.

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