Stress is a handmaiden of modern life. But it is possible to convert stress-building thoughts into stress-busting ones
EAT RIGHT TO BEAT STRESSStress affects your body's ability to handle various kinds of foods because it causes a sudden constriction of your blood vessels. This raises blood pressure and reduces the amount of blood flowing to the stomach and intestines. The flow of enzymes is slowed as well so that much of the food you eat, particularly if it has a high fat content, is poorly digested. Instead of being broken down properly, it ferments in the intestine, causing gas and distention.
Another thing that happens right away in a stress reaction is a hormonal alert that your blood needs more glucose. In other words, you feel hungry all the time. This may prompt you to eat a lot of carbohydrates, either in the form of sugar or starch. The reaction is an appropriate one if you are facing strenuous physical exertion, but it gives you only surplus calories if the stress is psychological.
There are some helpful pointers you can follow for an anti-stress diet:
• Cut down on table salt and other sources of sodium because of their link with high blood pressure. Remember that preservatives may also contain sodium.
• Drink only moderate amounts of coffee and tea and remember that caffeine is present in both. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are stress-stimulants.
• You should have eight big glasses of fluids every day. This helps to flush waste products out of the body.
• Eat foods rich in potassium, like oranges and bananas. Potassium is essential for maintaining the balance of minerals within body fluids and plays a key role in muscle contraction.
• Be sure to get enough calcium, as you tend to lose it when you are stressed. Try to have at least two glasses of skimmed milk a day.
• Vitamin C is important as it keeps the walls of the capillaries flexible. The blood vessels constrict at the first sign of stress, and this results in the depletion of vitamin C in the body.
• Vitamin B serves as a catalyst in the production of energy, and in the metabolism of protein and fats. It is also necessary for the central nervous system. In conditions of stress (especially physical), supplements are advisable. Increase the intake of green leafy vegetables, eggs, milk, whole grains and yeast.
• Nitrogen, the base of the body's protein, is excreted under stress. So protein intake should be increased by 10 per cent during a period of stress.
Five small meals are easier on the digestive system than three big ones. The additional small meals can take the form of afternoon or bedtime snacks.
Try and include apples (skin intact), apricots, bananas, French beans, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries corn, grape fruit, lemon, lettuce, melons, mushrooms, ladies fingers, oranges, peaches, pears, peas, pineapples, plums, potatoes, rice and tomatoes in your diet. They are high potassium and low sodium foods.
By Sunita Pant Bansal
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