Countering stress with adequate nutrition
We all know the expression: "You are what you eat" and that is truer for a stressed out person. The purpose of this segment of the program is to offer participants a way to ensure that their already overtaxed nervous system is well nourished to provide maximum resistance to stress.
Generally, a good diet is rich in whole grains, seeds and nuts, vegetables and fruit, dairy (if they are well tolerated) to which we add proteins such as fish, chicken, pork, eggs tofu, etc. It goes withour saying that these products must, as much as possible, be without artificial preservatives, dyes or chemicals flavourings. The latter will, in the long run exhaust and contaminate the metabolism, thus rendering it more vulnerable to diseases. Ideally, certified organic products should be favored.
As far as food supplements are concerned, adding vitamins C, D, B, calcium, (with magnesium and zinc for better absorption) to the diet is important. A normal diet should provide the daily-required doses of these vitamins. In an urgent stress situation, an increase dose of these vitamins would be beneficial.
Another important action to take is to reduce the consumption of all caffein containing products., since they stimulate the nervous system. Therefore, coffee, chocolate and colas should be consumed with moderation. Alcohol must also be consumed with respect and tobacco of course must be completely banned for obvious reasons.
Managing proteins and carbohydrates
We all have electrical and neurological pathways; one is to wake us up and the other one to help induce sleep.
Tha adrenaline pathway, which keeps us active, is stimulated by high protein food, while the indolamines pathway which promotes idleness and predisposes us to sleep, is triggered by the ingestion of carbohydrates.
An animal protein meal can provide up to five hours of energy while a meal consisting primarily of carbohydrates only provides two hours of energy. Therefore in the light of all of this and in an effort to reduce neural activity due to stress, logic dictates that meals should organized as follows: breakfast and lunches should be consist mainly of proteins and dinners should favor carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables and light on simple sugars.
Personally, I agree with the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, particularly when it comes to stress management. As the old saying goes: 'Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.
To prove this point, a study done by the Centre for Health Sciences of the University of California (UCLA) observed approximatively seven men and women who never or almost nevet ate breakfast. The study showed that the mortality rate was 40% higher for men and 28% for women compared to those who ate breakfast regularly. Other researches also demonstrated that those who skipped breakfast did not assimilate calcium and vitamin C as well throughout the day. In addition, they also established that the typical behaviour of these same people was to consume sweets more liberally.
The main idea when it comes to nutrition in relation to short-term stress management is to reduce the ingestion of proteins and increase carbohydrates. On the contrary, under continuous and long-term stress, it is recommended to increase protein consumption slightly and to reduce carbohydrates.
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Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)