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Eat to Beat Stress
What you eat when under stress can either fight it or aggravate it. So when you know you’ll be doing overtime, keep the following in mind:
During stress, your body needs more nutrients. Stress reduces your body’s ability to absorb and increases you daily requirement for certain nutrients.
For example, your body loses more magnesium, especially from the heart and other vital organs. This magnesium loss can lead to irritability and stress-related depression. Ever wonder why you are more sensitive to the noise of that screeching chair or your officemate’s loud voice? Blame it on magnesium loss.
Stress also increases the requirement for Vitamin C. Replenishing Vitamin C is particularly important as this vitamin helps the body cope with stress. As Vitamin C also protects the immune system, this will help prevent illness, which you may be more susceptible to during stress.
B-complex vitamins, which protect the nervous system, are also lost during stress as the nervous system is working harder during the stress response.
Stress thickens the blood. For older people and those with high blood pressure, this is particularly dangerous as it makes the body more prone to a heart attack or stroke.
Sugar and caffeine aggravate stress. These may give you a temporary lift, but in the long run it adds to stress. Notice how, some time after that one cup of coffee or that one muffin, you will be craving for another one.
Sugar and caffeine can cause instability in blood sugar levels and brain chemistry. Sugar, in particular, depletes the immune system by slowing white blood cell action.
So what is the best diet to cope with stress?
Load up on fruits and vegetables. These can replenish all the vitamins and minerals during stress and can actually help the body cope better. Fiber-rich vegetables are essential as they temper cholesterol level increase during stress. Generally, for vegetables, carrots and greens (the greener, the better!) are best while for fruits, those rich in Vitamin C and in other antioxidants like oranges, pineapples, papayas and berries can be considered.
Consider food rich in carbohydrates but not high in sugar. Whole grains, as these are also rich in fiber, can give you that pick-me-up without the damaging effects of sugar. Also good options are corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Make healthy eating a habit and not only during times of stress. A body nourished with healthy food is better equipped to cope with stress when it comes.