By Dr Anjali Mukerjee March 2007 Fruits, cruciferous vegetables and green tea can calm and relax taut nerves Suffering is disease and contentment is good health. This only points out the profound connection between our body and mind. Health is a biological equilibrium that exists within our bodies. A person with a disturbed mind and soul cannot possess a healthy body. Health is a reflection of physical, mental, spiritual and economic well-being. Stress in today’s society is omnipresent. It is the manner in which a person reacts to stress that makes all the difference to health. Those who handle stress in a detached manner are the ones who are least affected by it. In other words just ‘stay cool’ when under stress. When you let stress get the better of you, it can cause disease. Psychological stress activates the adrenal glands to discharge stress hormones (cortisol), which help us survive the stress, but at the cost of our health. It is now a well-known fact that stress has a strong influence on both our mental and physical health. Stress affects almost all our body systems. When a person is exposed to stress over a period of time, he can develop high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, cancer, immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, depression, etc. Stress and Digestion Even if we eat a healthy diet, our body will be unable to digest the nutrients if we eat under stressful conditions. Our state of mind is critical at meal times. The body can assimilate nutrients from food only if we eat in a relaxed environment. Our thoughts during meal times have a profound effect on our digestion. If something is bothering you or you are agitated, it is best not to eat at that time. When you compose yourself later you can resume eating. Treat meal times as sacred moments. Don’t force yourself to eat just because it is mealtime. Follow your hunger signals. Try and eat up to 3/4th of your eating capacity for good digestion. If you overfeed yourself, you will be overloading the digestive system with work. This will make you feel lethargic, sleepy and weak. Foods that Fight Stress When your body is under stress the demand for nutrients is more as more key nutrients are burnt up. Stress increases the demand for vitamin C, the B-complex, magnesium, vitamin A, proteins, antioxidants and essential oils. Vitamin C There is more concentration of Vitamin C in the brain tissue than in any other tissue in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant. During stress more of it is used up. Therefore, those under stress should consume any where between 500 to 1000 mg daily. Fruits They are rich in antioxidants and are an ideal food for reducing stress. They contain simple sugars as well as complex carbohydrates, which help raise serotonin, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. There are a number of people who overeat during stressful time. Those who eat food to battle stress eventually end up battling obesity. Fruits are an ideal food for such people Cruciferous Vegetables Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, are rich in bioflavinoids, which are powerful antioxidants. During stressful times, the body generates a whole lot of free radicals which harm the cells. The bioflavinoids protect the body against such damage. Green Tea Green tea is particularly rich in polyphenols. These are active agents against cancer and heart disease. They protect the body against stress. It would be worthwhile to switch to drinking green tea instead of regular black tea as black tea loses some of its antioxidant properties due to fermentation. Camomile Tea This is a herb which helps bring about relaxation and promotes sound sleep. If you find that your life has been a bit hectic and you find yourself all knotted up like a bundle of nerves, you can take a cup of camomile tea to put yourself at ease. Due to its ability to induce relaxation, it may help to reduce the effects of stress. However, some people are known to be allergic to this herb. So use it with caution. If you experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, then stop using it. Camomile tea should be best taken at bed-time. About 1-2 cups at night are sufficient to wash away the day’s stress and induce sleep. Yoga and Meditation Meditation helps combat stress by allowing the mind to accumulate energy in silence. When we stop our mental chattering, we can become more centred and generate a lot of positive energy. Pranayama, that is, simple breathing exercises, and yoga have been proved very beneficial in combatting all forms of stress. Pranayama helps to promote controlled breathing and brings about balance in the body. These simple solutions and suggestions have been successfully prescribed to many of my patients over a span of two decades. I hope you find these simple remedies of some benefit to you. Dr. Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counseling centre. You may direct your questions to email@example.com. For further information, visit www.health-total.com. Contact: 2673 2883 / 5604 4001
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