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Battle Stress the Healthy Way

In today’s world, stress can come from many sources: traffic, finances, and even the approaching holiday season!

Here are 4 ways you can battle stress, and which foods, nutrients and herbs will help you conquer those stressful feelings.

1. Fuelled and Ready
The adrenal glands get a big workout every time the photocopier jams, the computer erases your document or your blood pressure rises because you’re late. Nurture your adrenal glands with B vitamins (nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables). Deficiency in B vitamins can compromise adrenal function. Panax ginseng can help enhance the body’s ability to respond to physical and chemical stress.

2. Smooth Out the Ride
Smooth out the extreme spikes that occur during stress to your blood sugar, cortisol and epinephrine with help from herbs and nutrients. For example, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (found in fish or created in your body when you eat flax or chia seeds) lowered norepinephrine levels in stressed out healthy men in a clinical study. Ashwagandha is capable of counteracting extreme stress and can support the adrenal glands. Rhodiola influences messengers in the nervous system (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine) helping ease the rollercoaster ride stress can put you through.

3. Improve Immune Function
Being stressed can suppress your immune function. When your holiday shopping list has your cortisol levels high consider some nutritional support. Dig into some fermented foods (yogurt, kimchi) as a microbiome packed with probiotics can promote immune health. Alpha lipoid acid (found in broccoli, yam, beets and rice bran) helps modulate parts of the immune system when cortisol levels are high. Probiotics also help promote immune health.

4. Get Some Rest
Falling asleep can be hard when you are feeling stressed out. Sleep better with some natural help. Try lavender essential oils. Used in a diffuser, they can help induce sleep Cherries may not be in season, but the melatonin they contain can helps the circadian rhythm in the body (sleep/awake cycle). Studies show people with insomnia have lower levels of melatonin at night. Vitamin B12 helps the circadian rhythm in the body (sleep/awake cycle), similar to melatonin, and can be found in fish, eggs and meats. Still not sleeping well? Valerian may improve sleep and be calming.

Common Stress-Associated Behaviours:
• Anger/Irritability – 60%
• Fatigue/Sleep Troubles – 52%
• Over eating/Eating Unhealthy Foods – 48%
• Skipping Meals – 39%

Calming Cup of Tea
In one cup of black or green tea you’ll find L-theanine. L-theanine induces alpha brain wave activity, inducing a feeling of relaxation. If a greater alpha brain wave impact is desired seek out GABA.

References:
Health Canada Monograph Melatonin, Panax Ginseng & Valerian

http://www.webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=177&lang=eng
Altern Med Rev 2009;14(2):114-140.

Canadian Mental Health Association
http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/mood-disorders/seasonal-affective-disorder/
Psychiatry Res 2015 Aug;228(3):373-9.
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