When you are under stress it’s really important to feed and nourish yourself with the right foods and supplementation when required. Whilst this may seem really obvious it is very important because your body needs vitamins and minerals to produce the hormones and neurotransmitters (the brain’s messengers) required to adapt to the stress and bring the body back into balance.
A few essentials I recommend people include into their diets are:
B group vitamins - these are needed for healthy mood, motivation and wellbeing. They are vital for producing energy, as well as the neurotransmitters that promote happiness, relaxation and sleep
Magnesium - When you are stressed, your body may require more magnesium than normal. It is beneficial for many things including managing stress and improving energy. You may also know that magnesium is used as a muscle relaxant. Due to its relaxing qualities, it may improve mood and sleep. Food sources include leafy greens, eggs, almonds, cashews, wholegrain cereals, cocoa & legumes
Fish oils – they reduce inflammation and provide neural support (memory, learning and mood). Food sources include obviously good quality oily fish (tuna, salmon, cod) and linseed oil
Vitamin D – when we are busy with work or family (or both!) we don't get out as much in the sun as we perhaps should and as such our levels of vitamin D can be quite low. This vitamin not only supports immune function but has also been found to prevent depression
Vitamin C – when we are stressed we become run down, and with high concentration of vitamin C in our adrenal glands it is often good to supplement during times of stress. Food sources include: citrus fruit, rosehips, sweet potatoes, broccoli, blackcurrants and tomatoes
Another area that is extremely important is a healthy gut – research has shown the link between gut health and the human brain. The digestive system makes up for about 70% of the bodies immune system and is where a large amount (up to 90%) of our serotonin (essential for supporting emotional health – therefore decreasing the risk of depression and anxiety) is found. Good digestive health is therefore essential for a well functioning body. To support your digestive system prebiotics (these help stimulate the growth of good bacteria and include foods such as banana, whole oats, barley, garlic and green vegetables) and probiotics (friendly bacteria found in yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut and fermented foods for example) are great tools to include into your diet.
While I am a big believer in food as medicine when we are really stressed and rundown taking time to feed ourselves the right food can be all too hard. With a little bit of planning ahead, and some additional nutritional supplements when needed, you can really help support your body during these crazy times.