How to Heal the Body From the Damages of Stress
By Deanna Lynn Sletten
We all experience stress in our lives, but for many people stress becomes a way of life. In these cases they are experiencing chronic stress which, over time, can cause damage to the body. Feeling stressed on a continuous basis deprives the body of many important nutrients. If these nutrients are not replaced through eating the right foods or taking vitamin or mineral supplements, some functions of the body can break down and become permanently damaged. Medical conditions that can result from chronic stress include:
- Heart disease
- Lowered immune system
- Anxiety disorder
- Hair loss
Fortunately, even if you are unable to stop the stress in your life, you can battle against damage to the body by eating properly and taking supplements. In fact, having the optimum amount of nutrients in the body may even help you maintain your cool in stressful situations. Here are ways to heal the body from the damages of stress.
If you have a stressful job or life situation, adding stimulants only adds to the stress. While you may think stimulates help you stay awake and alert, in reality it increases your adrenaline gland output, makes your heart pump faster and overworks the arteries as the blood pumps through them. After the initial surge the body nose-dives and needs more stimulants to keep it pumped. Avoid caffeinated coffee and tea, chocolate and foods high in refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. Instead, eat foods high in fiber and protein to give you the sustained energy you need throughout the day.
Get Enough of the B Vitamins in Your Diet to Combat Stress
The B vitamins take the biggest hit when your body is stressed, yet they are also the most important for preventing long-term damage to your body. Vitamin B1, thiamine, provides fuel to the nerve cells by converting carbohydrates into the form of glucose which is the only source of energy for the nervous system. Deficiencies in B1 can cause damage to the outer covering that protects the nerve fibers. Foods that contain B1 are peanuts, legumes, oatmeal, bacon, cabbage and fortified milk.
Vitamin B2, riboflavin, assists the body in producing anti-stress hormones and is vital for a healthy glandular system, especially the adrenal glands which controls where fat is deposited, and balances sodium and potassium levels in the body. Foods rich in B2 are almonds, soy nuts, yogurt, eggs, fortified milk, pork, chicken and mackerel.
Vitamin B3, niacin or nicotinic acid, is important for turning carbohydrates into energy for the nervous system. It is also necessary for the digestive tract, eyes, hair and skin. It has recently been proven that niacin helps to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, lower triglycerides and is effective in treating atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Foods rich in B3 are dairy products, poultry, lean meats, enriched cereals, nuts and eggs.
Vitamin B5, pantothenic acid, is especially important for healthy adrenal glands and the ability to produce the stress hormone, cortisone. B5 is also important for maintaining nerves, muscles, the digestive tract and healthy skin. It helps in managing cholesterol and triglycerides and helps to alleviate anxiety, depression and inflammation in the body. It also is responsible for combating fatigue. Foods rich in B5 are chicken, legumes, milk, egg yolks, whole grains and broccoli.
Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is essential for building up antibodies and red blood cells and the maintenance of the nerves, hormone production and skin health. It also is beneficial to alleviating depression as well as allergies. Foods rich in B6 are peanuts, cashews, wheat bran, fortified cereals, beef, pork and chicken.
Vitamin B12 is also essential in the formation of red blood cells and maintenance of the nervous system. Deficiencies in B12 can result in heart disease, dementia, depression, memory loss, fatigue, neurological disorders and weakness. Foods rich in B12 are trout, tuna, chicken, yogurt, Swiss cheese and fortified cereals.
Vitamin C for Stress
Vitamin C can help prevent damage to the body from chronic stress. Chronic stress can delete the stores of vitamin C in the body which can lead to an impaired immune system. Getting enough vitamin C daily helps to inhibit the release of stress hormones and protect the immune system. Foods high in vitamin C are oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes and cauliflower.
Folic acid is important for the creation of new cells in people of all ages. It is especially important for women who are pregnant for the healthy development of the fetus. Deficiencies in folic acid can result in anemia with symptoms of fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating and shortness of breath. Foods rich in folic acid include sunflower seeds, spinach, peanut butter, beans and fortified cereals.
Taking a B-complex vitamin daily can supply your body with most of the nutrients lost from stress, but nutritionists all agree that it is best to get vitamins through a healthy, balanced diet. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above from chronic stress, see your doctor. By eating a balanced, healthy diet and adding appropriate supplements you can fight the battle against stress causing damage to your body.
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