The future is a funny thing, you know?
On one hand, we have all sorts of devices to make life easier and more relaxing.
We've got clocks that automatically update themselves for daylight savings, coffee pots that automatically brew your favourite cup o' joe at the right time, and even robots that feed our cats, clean their litter boxes, vacuum our floors, clean our gutters, and much more.
And let's not forget the little device you hold in your hand, which you may or may not be compulsively checking every five minutes.
So you'd think with all these improvements, life would be less stressful.
But it doesn't take a naturopath to recognize that that's not always the case.
In fact, the truth is, people are more stressed than ever.
According to a 2016 study from Statistics Canada, about one in four Canadians describe their lives as “extremely stressful”.
That means more than nine million Canadians are dealing with high-stress lives.
What Can I Do About It?
There are a number of stress-reducing techniques out there, many from a nutritional perspective.
Believe it or not, the food you eat can have a massive impact on your stress levels.
If you're feeling stressed out, one easy way to alleviate that is by drinking a glass of water.
The importance of water to our health can't be overstated. And if you're feeling stressed, tired, or depressed, a tall glass of water can be surprisingly effective at making you feel better.
But other than water, there are a few different nutrients which can help you combat stress.
Here are five of them, and where you can get them.
1. B- Vitamins
When your mind is constantly in a state of anxiety, it can cause you to have difficulty sleeping.
And when you can't sleep, your stress level can go up, which leads to more difficulty sleeping.
B vitamins, especially B1, B3, and B9, can help reduce stress.
These also help regulate your nervous system and digestive system, without which you'd be in hot water indeed.
You can find vitamin B1 (also known as thiamin) in pork, ham, dark leafy greens, almonds, and broccoli.
Meanwhile, vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) shows up most commonly in chicken, turkey, and most types of fish.
And B9 (also known as folate) shows up in spinach, turnip greens, and broccoli.
Magnesium helps your body build serotonin, the stuff it uses to send messages from one section of the brain to another.
High stress and low serotonin levels have been linked in scientific research, as demonstrated by this 1998 study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, though the exact relationship isn't yet fully understood.
There has also been some evidence linking serotonin deficiency with depression, though some surprising studies have shown that the link is more complicated than a causal relationship.
But either way, serotonin is an essential part of health, and of stress management.
You can find magnesium in green leafy veggies, nuts (especially almonds), and beans.
Ever sit down after a long, stressful day and scarf down an entire bar of chocolate?
Why is that? Because it's delicious of course, but there's more to it than that.
Dark chocolate is loaded with polyphenols, an antioxidant which helps neutralize free radicals in your body.
Free radicals are substances which can cause all sorts of issues within the body.
When we're stressed, our bodies are more susceptible to damage, which means having a steady supply of antioxidants is even more important during stressful times.
Chocolate is also a great source of magnesium as well, so it's no wonder we gravitate toward chocolate when we're stressed.
Now before you start going around thinking a naturopathic doctor said you can stuff your face full of chocolate every day because it's good for you, take a step back.
Of course, this doesn't mean you should go hog wild on chocolate.
Everything in moderation of course.
And it's DARK chocolate that has the benefits, so loading up on all that leftover Halloween candy isn't going to help.
You can also find polyphenols in green tea, most types of berries, artichokes, flax seeds, chestnuts, apples, and pomegranate juice.
Potassium is an element with a few different functions.
It helps keep the fluids in your body balanced, your nerves functioning, and your muscles firing.
This is one of the reasons why potassium is so popular among athletes.
And of course, one of the most important muscles in your body is your heart.
During stressful times, your heart works harder than it needs to.
Potassium can help keep it moderated, which is definitely a good thing.
The easiest, most common place to get potassium for most people is from bananas and sweet potatoes, but you can also get it from the leafy green part of beets, clams, prunes, and carrot juice.
5. Vitamin C
When you're stressed out, your adrenal glands end up producing a large amount of cortisol.
This stuff pushes your body to break down your muscle tissues in order to get energy and can weaken your immune system as well.
But a dose of vitamin C can help your body lower your cortisol levels to a normal level, which will protect your hard-earned muscles and keep you safe against disease too.
If you're eating a diet rich in whole foods, it's pretty difficult to be deficient in vitamin C.
Chili peppers, red and green peppers, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, pineapple, mango, and citrus fruits are all loaded with vitamin C.
Eat Your Stress Away
Eating these foods can help you reduce your stress levels, which can help you cope with a high workload or a large number of responsibilities better than others.
And since stress is also linked to a wide range of other health issues, eating a healthy diet rich in stress-busting foods can help you live a longer, healthier life.
But sometimes, there's more to stress than a nutritional imbalance.
If you're finding your current strategies for coping with stress aren't helping, there is hope.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic today and book a FREE 15-minute introductory session with me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago.
To get additional information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Mississauga naturopath