Have you ever been late for an office meeting? Have you ever had days when you were so tensed for an upcoming exam that you had trouble sleeping? Have you ever been worried about something so badly that you ended up with a terrible headache? If yes, then you know what it is like to be stressed.
Cut-throat competition and an increase in lifestyle demands have made us prone to stressful situations. Be it a student with an academic workload or someone under work pressure, stress has become an uninvited norm in our lives. The more we try to cram into our busy lives, the higher the chances of stress-related disorders.
How does stress affect us?
- A stressed body has an increased production of the hormone cortisol, also called the stress hormone, that affects the body’s metabolism causing an increase in blood pressure, blood sugar levels, abnormal bone regeneration and calcium deficiency. There may be other unusual changes in our body due to stress, which may cause various conditions such as:
- Deterioration of the lens in the eyes
- Damage to nerve cells causing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson
- Inflammation of the joints causing arthritis
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease
- So what can we do to combat stress? Grab a candy bar or a packet full of chips? Stress makes us binge or ‘stress-eat’. But can we manage stress even while eating healthy?
Yes! Antioxidants are the miracle food that can help you with this.
- What do antioxidants do? Antioxidants are naturally present in the body and can be given externally through various sources in the form of food or supplements. They help in preventing damage to the cells and maintain cortisol levels in the body. Leafy vegetables and fruits are good sources of antioxidants. They are present in various forms such as:
- VITAMIN A : A fat-soluble vitamin is richly present in liver and fish oil, eggs, and milk. Green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, and tomatoes are some of the plant-based sources of vitamin A. Multivitamin supplements contain 2,500-10,000 IU of vitamin A that helps combat stress. Vitamin A is important for vision and cell growth. It prevents the deterioration of the lens of the eyes and risk of cancer.
- VITAMIN C : Its is also known as ascorbic acid, is primarily present in oranges, amla, and lemons. When vitamin C levels in the body reduce due to stress, the body’s ability to fight diseases and infections is reduced, which can lead to illnesses and, in turn, more stress. Consuming vitamin C decreases the effects of stress on the body and increases its ability to cope with stress. Oranges also contain folic acid, which relieves stress by reducing blood pressure and elevating a depressed mood. A daily dose of 65-90 mg of vitamin C is recommended to combat stress.
- VITAMIN E : It is a powerful antioxidant that also boosts immunity. It is found in edible vegetable oils such as wheat germ, sunflower, soybean oil almonds, peanuts and mangoes. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 15 mg daily.
- BETA-CAROTENE : Beta-carotene imparts the characteristic orange colour to vegetables and fruits. It is converted into vitamin A inside the body and is useful in preventing heart diseases, cataract, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Five servings of fruits and leafy vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek and drumstick provide 6-8 mg of beta carotene daily.
- MAGNESIUM: Magnesium is a mineral necessary for the regulation of heartbeats, muscle relaxation and fatty acid formation. Spinach is a good source of magnesium. Three cups of spinach contain about 40% of the daily magnesium needs of the body. It helps to keep a person calm and prevents the blood pressure from spiking. Who knew!
- SELENIUM : Selenium, a mineral necessary for energy generation can help combat fatigue and overcome illness during stress. The daily recommended allowance for a person about 19 years of age is 55 mcg/day. Chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds and brown rice are some of the rich sources of selenium.
- POLYPHENOLS : Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, an antioxidant that keeps cortisol levels low and elevates the mood during duress. Dark chocolate is considered to be a comfort food, as it not only helps battle emotional stress but combats fatigue too.
- Globally, more than 260 million people suffer from anxiety disorder, with very few being able to overcome it. Unhealthy eating will elevate stress, followed by further problems if not resolved. In a stressful situation, good nutrition and a well-balanced diet help negate the effects stress has on our body. After all, it’s not the load that breaks us but the way we handle it. Adding antioxidants to our diet can be a small but effective step against stress.
- So, instead of munching on junk food, replace it with a bowl of oatmeal, fresh fruits or a bar of dark chocolate that will help in shoring up the immune system and maintain your blood pressure levels too. To know more details, contact our expert nutritionist who can advise you a suitable diet tailored to your lifestyle and food preferences. Get a stress test done from a nearby certified lab using the HealthAssure app. Why suffer when you can change your life with just one app?
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