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These 5 Nutrients Can Help You Reduce Stress

nutrition for stress reduction | Mindful Healing | Mississauga Naturopathic Doctor

Modernity sure has plenty of contradictions.

On one hand, we have all sorts of devices to make life easier and to manage our stress levels.

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.

We even have 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 naturopathic doctor 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.

So, what can you do about it?

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive and talk all about stress: what it is, how it affects us, and some naturopathic stress solutions that can help.

What Is Stress?

Stress comes in many forms.

The World Health Organization defines stress as “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation”.

Everyone experiences stress occasionally.

And, for the most part, a little bit of stress isn’t terribly harmful.

In fact, it often motivates us to work harder to achieve our goals.

However, long term and/or severe stress can cause life long challenges.

Additionally, everyone reacts to stress differently.

What you might consider a mild inconvenience could cause severe stress for someone else.

Why Is Stress Harmful?

Extreme or prolonged periods of stress can have serious affects for both your mind and body.

Some symptoms of too much stress may include:

What Can I Do About It?

Several stress reducing techniques are available, and many of them come from a nutritional perspective.

Believe it or not, the foods you eat can have a massive impact on your stress levels.

According to an article published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids as well as vegetables can help reduce your stress levels.

Water is also incredibly important.

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.

If you’re feeling stressed, tired, or depressed, a tall glass of water can be surprisingly effective at making you feel better.

RELATED: How To Lose Weight With Water

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

Sleep difficulties, such as insomnia, are a frequent consequence of chronic stress and anxiety.

However, lack of sleep frequently leads to heightened stress levels, which in turn makes it even more difficult to sleep.
B vitamins, especially B1, B3, and B9, can help reduce stress.

RELATED: Vitamin Profile: The Lost B Vitamins
RELATED: B Vitamins: Why They’re Important For Your Health

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 vitamin B9 (also known as folate) shows up in spinach, turnip greens, and broccoli.

2. Magnesium

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 are linked in scientific research, as demonstrated by this 1998 study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, though the exact relationship isn’t yet fully understood.

There’s also some evidence linking serotonin deficiency with depression, though some surprising studies suggest 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.

3. Polyphenols

Have you ever sat down after a long, stressful day to enjoy 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 you’re stressed, your body is 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 its 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.

bananas for stress reduction | Mindful Healing | Mississauga Naturopathic Doctor

4. Potassium

Potassium is an element with a few different functions.

It helps balance the fluids in your body, keeps 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.

Your heart works harder than it needs to during stressful times.

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 produce 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.

Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today

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, ND.

Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today to reduce your stress levels naturally.

Until next time,

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D
Mindful Healing Naturopathic Clinic
Mississauga, ON L5M 1L7
(905) 819-8200

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 and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.