The Basics of a Stress-Free Diet

Importance of Nutrients

The first connection between natural remedies and mental health was established when it was discovered that niacin cured pellagra. Since then, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals have been linked to all kinds of mental problems, including both stress itself and the proclivity toward stress. Even happy people can become depressed as the result of a niacin or folic-acid deficiency, reports Earl Mindell, author of The Vitamin Bible.

Dr. R. Shulman reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry that forty-eight out of fifty-nine psychiatric patients had folic-acid deficiencies.

The nutrients important in the reduction of stress are listed below:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) — taking more than the average can alleviate depression and anxiety attacks.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) — the body uses this vitamin to produce natural antidepressants such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • Pantothenic acid — a natural stress-reliever.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) — another natural stress-reliever.
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) — assists in maintaining a healthy nervous system, improves concentration, increases energy levels, and helps relieve stress and irritability.
  • Choline — a natural sedative.
  • Vitamin E (dry form, alpha-tocopherol) — aids in the transport of oxygen to the brain, vital for maintaining a stable mood.
  • Folic acid — deficiencies have been known to contribute to a number of different mental illnesses.
  • Zinc — essential for a healthy brain.
  • Magnesium — a mineral that combats stress and its negative effects on the body.
  • Manganese — reduces stress and irritability.
  • Niacin — needed for a healthy nervous system.
  • Calcium — alleviates stress and has a calming effect.
  • Tyrosine — speeds up the production of the natural antidepressants dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • Tryptophan — in conjunction with vitamin B6, niacin, and magnesium, produces the neurotransmitter serotonin, the king of natural anti-stress chemicals. (Note that many popular medications used to treat depression and anxiety actually work their magic by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.)
  • Phenylalanine — another trigger of the natural antidepressants dopamine and norepinephrine.

So how do you ensure that you are not deficient in any of these vitamins and minerals? The easiest way of going about this is to take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. There are many different brands of multivitamins on the market today, but you need not spend your cash on a brand purporting to be of premium quality; a one-a-day generic multivitamin will work fine for most
people. Most of the generic multivitamins are low in vitamin C, however, so you may wish to buy an additional container of vitamin C capsules.

Another helpful supplement is fish oil. You have probably heard that there are good fats and bad fats when it comes to diet and nutrition. Well, fish oil is a source of good fats, otherwise known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). A vast number of people are deficient in these essential fats. Taking fish oil daily will allow your body to normalize EFA levels. One sign that this is working is that your skin will take on a very smooth texture. You may also find that your moods are far more stable than usual.

A herbal supplement that many people find helpful in dealing with stress is St. John’s wort.

Be sure you are getting enough fiber in your diet. The results of not getting enough fiber are enough to cause stress in anyone.

Drinking plenty of water is a piece of advice that you have probably had drilled into your head on many occasions. Although the conventional wisdom of drinking a certain number of glasses of water each day has actually been challenged scientifically in recent times, there can be no doubt that staying properly hydrated is vital for healthy skin, healthy kidneys, and a healthy body overall. Moreover, what is one of the classic symptoms of dehydration? Stress, irritability.

Nutrition for stress-free living is not merely a matter of what to take into the body, but also of what not to take into the body. Excessive smoking, excessive amounts of alcohol, and the use of illegal drugs wreak havoc on the body and cause unnecessary amounts of stress. Sugar, saturated fat, artificial preservatives/flavors/colors, and substances that your body may not react well to (such as lactose, gluten, and caffeine) all start a chain reaction that ends in stress, among many other problems. If you really want to stop harmful substances from entering your body, consider switching to organic food.

A fast every now and then is a natural form of detox. You may wish to incorporate intermittent fasting into your diet.

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