Beating Stress through Nutrition

Healthy eating plays a crucial role in a person’s ability to deal with times of extra stress. Carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are important ingredients for energy, mental concentration, and emotional stability.

A person’s food intake affects mood, behaviour, and brain function. Human body has a compelling need for nutrients. Changes in energy or nutrient intake can alter both brain chemistry and the functioning of neurotransmitters which transmit nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another in the brain. They are important since they influence mood, sleep patterns, and thinking.

Good nutrition is an important stress management tool. When the body is poorly fed, stress takes an even greater toll on our health. Nutrition and stress are interlinked. The better nourished a person is, the better she is able to cope with stress.

"Eating right is just as important as managing stress
Because vulnerability to stress increases with poor diet"
A well-nourished body = properly functional brain = A calmer mind

Excessive worries

If one is living with high levels of stress, she is putting her entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on her emotional equilibrium, as well as her physical health. It narrows her ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. Let’s know more about stress.

Under constant stress our immunity system reduces the ability to fight against bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells, The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.

Nutrient and stress

Many of the disorders related to stress are a direct result of not stress itself, but of nutrient deficiencies caused by increased metabolic rate during stress. As stress has a tendency to naturally increase cellular activity and reduce the effectiveness of the digestive system it leads to nutritional deficiencies. Stressed people need to maintain a nutritious, well-balanced diet with special emphasis on replacing the nutrients that may be depleted during stress.

During stress there is an increased excretion of protein, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus and decreased storage of calcium. Therefore, include apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, dried fruits, figs, green leafy vegetables, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, soya products, and yogurt.

Whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables and enough protein to sustain cellular rejuvenation are recommended. Honey and other carbohydrates have a calming effect on the brain. Liquids work more quickly and get absorbed faster. Onion induces relaxation and drowsiness.

Dopamine and Serotonin are chemicals which act as neurohormone in contributing to overall functioning of the brain. Carbohydrates trigger release of Serotonin, while proteins elevate brain levels of Dopamine.

Sources of Dopamine

Cucumber, watermelon, apple, celery, chicken, fish, tofu, cheese, green leafy vegetables, honey, blue green algae.

Dr. Karuna Chaturvedi
H.O.D. - Dietetics Department & OPD Consultant