Stress triggers a number of biological reactions: the adrenal glands release stress hormones - adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol - into the bloodstream, increase blood sugar and blood pressure, and accelerate heart rate. In other words, the body responds to stress by switching to "fight or flight" mode.
One of the problems is that modern stressful situations, as a rule, do not involve a fight or a chase, and our body continues to react to them in the most old-fashioned way, while not receiving proper discharge. As a result, the stressful condition, which ideally should save lives, drags on and undermines health and emotional background. Anxiety, depression and mood swings appear - in general, everything that you usually want to eat.
In the short term, stress knocks off your appetite: when you need to get away from an angry lion (or turn in a super-important project on which your career depends on time), and really, not to eat. However, if the stressful situation is not resolved (or you continue to perceive it as stressful), high levels of cortisol, on the contrary, begin to stimulate the appetite. And here it is important to lean not on chips and fast food, but on products that help increase stress resistance. We will tell you what vitamins, minerals and elements you need to pay attention to.
Proteins and carbohydrates
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One of the causes of chronic stress may be a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a substance that helps nerve cells interact. Serotonin is responsible for good mood and general feelings of well-being, controls the work of other neurotransmitters and decides which signals to pass to the brain and which not. When serotonin levels are low, this control is weakened and the sensitivity of the brain receptors to stress hormones increases. As a result, the most insignificant reason is enough for a strong stress reaction.
Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan, an essential amino acid that we can only get from food. Like all amino acids, tryptophan is a constituent of protein (plant protein is especially rich in it), but carbohydrates are needed in order for it to turn into serotonin. This is how it works.
When we eat foods containing carbohydrates, blood sugar levels rise, which in turn triggers the release of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. It is insulin - and only it - that helps tryptophan get into the brain, where it is used to produce the "happiness hormone." Without sugar, this chain of biological processes is impossible, and at least for this reason, it is not worth excluding carbohydrates from the diet, to put it mildly. Complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) are of course preferable to simple ones (sweets).
Foods high in tryptophan: pumpkin seeds, soybeans, cheese, meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, lamb), poultry (chicken, turkey), fish (especially tuna and halibut), seafood, oat bran, legumes, eggs …
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Magnesium is an essential mineral that participates in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. It activates enzymes that are responsible for energy production and helps regulate the levels of calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D and other trace elements in the body. Magnesium deficiency can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Also, a lack of magnesium is associated with a decrease in serotonin levels and, accordingly, with depression.
Research shows that the majority of Westerners do not consume enough magnesium. In addition, his already modest level drops significantly during stress.
The symptoms of a deficiency are fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, and (which is, in general, logical) a predisposition to stress. Which lowers magnesium levels. How not to fall into this vicious circle? Eat more green leafy vegetables, include whole grains, seeds, and nuts in your diet. And if there are no problems with the kidneys, and vitamins or dietary supplements with magnesium will not interfere, but here it is already necessary to consult a doctor.
Foods high in magnesium: spinach, Swiss chard, nuts (cashews, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pine and walnuts), cereals (buckwheat, oatmeal, millet), mustard, legumes (peas, beans), seaweed.
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The greatest amount of vitamin C in the body is concentrated in the adrenal glands. It's essential for the production of cortisol, so our vitamin C stores are rapidly depleted during stress. Paradox number one is that if the adrenal glands lack vitamin C, they panic and release more cortisol, which, of course, increases anxiety. Paradox number two: Research shows that relatively high doses of vitamin C (1,000 to 1,500 mg) significantly reduce blood cortisol and adrenaline levels.
The conclusion is simple: in order for the body to adequately respond to stress and recover quickly, it must receive a sufficient amount of ascorbic acid. You need more raw vegetables (vitamin C is destroyed by heating) and fruits.
Foods high in vitamin C: chili peppers, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, parsley, radish, fresh and sauerkraut, guava, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, mango, strawberry, oranges.
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Each of the eight B vitamins has its own unique functions, but they are all involved in one way or another in maintaining the functioning of the nervous system, regulating mood and response to stress. Lack of B vitamins can lead to anxiety, irritability and chronic fatigue. Conversely, a number of studies show that taking B vitamins reduces anxiety, helps to cope with everyday stress at work, increases psychological stability, and improves mood and cognitive function.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is especially important for stress resistance. It is even called an anti-stress vitamin: it is considered a key element in keeping the adrenal glands working and, like vitamin C, is essential for the production of stress hormones. Accordingly, the level of pantothenic acid drops seriously during stress, and its reserves must be replenished.
Lack of vitamin B5 negatively affects adrenal function, which in turn leads to inadequate production of stress hormones with all the accompanying unpleasant symptoms. Conversely, supplementation with pantethine (the active form of pantothenic acid) promotes more balanced secretion of stress hormones, including cortisol.
Foods high in vitamin B5 (in the active form, pantethine, the body will convert it itself): chicken liver, salmon, avocado, mushrooms, yogurt, sunflower seeds.
Stressful situations are rarely pleasant, but they give energy, motivate, make you move forward, and sometimes discover new unexpected qualities in yourself. To support the body in these circumstances, it is important to provide yourself with the right fuel and, as far as possible, to be recharged with optimism.>