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Did You Know? Stress Is Good For You! Here's Why

Stress is a dreaded word these days. So much so, that we have authors write thick books about it, we have businesses running in the name of stress therapy and medications to curb stress sell loose!

So, why does this article state that stress is good?

Let's understand stress first and how it affects our body.

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What Is Stress?

Stress is a reaction to a certain situation and the body's way of making you more alert and ready to take on a challenge. When a stressful situation hits (like a dog comes running in front of our car), we need an extra spurt of energy to counter these situations. The brain directs your adrenal glands located right above your kidneys through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, to release a surge of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol [1].

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure and energy supply. Cortisol increases sugar and glucose in the blood. This is a natural response and is helpful in situations such as, when one has to apply emergency brakes, or run for life when a fire breaks. Have you ever noticed how after such incidences we usually stop for 5 minutes and breathe till we feel normal? That is to get the body regulatory back on track [2].

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Stress And Us

So stress is a natural way for our body to adapt to certain situations and hence is good.

But, today's lifestyle demands us to be on a high alert ALL THE TIME. Whether, it's from our workplaces, or handling children or family issues and most of the times all of them combined! There is no time to STOP AND BREATHE till we feel normal.

The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it appropriately. Stress can be positive and negative.

Studies suggests that intermittent stress periods tunes up the brains and improves alertness and performance. The brain is constantly responding to stress.

Extreme or chronic stress can have a negative effect. But moderate and short-lived stress-like an upcoming exam or preparing for public speaking-improves cognitive performance and memory. Moderate stress can lead to cell growth in the brain's learning centers [1].

However, when the stress continues for continued time with no relaxation it leads to a situation called distress resulting in chronic illness.

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Food Helps With Stress

Foods helps tame stress and a healthy diet can counter the impact of stress, by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure [4].

Carbohydrates: For a steady supply of the feel good chemical, serotonin, consume complex carbs like whole grains, breads, oatmeal's.

Vitamin C: It helps strengthen your immune system and curb stress levels. Take sufficient intake of foods such as oranges, lemon and the likes.

Magnesium: A deficiency in this mineral triggers headache and fatigue and thus an increase in stress. Make sure to have sufficient green leafy vegetables especially spinach [5].

Omega 3 fatty acids: This essential fat can be obtained from fish , walnuts, olive oil and flax seeds. It helps protect against heart diseases, mood swings, depression and thus helps in preventing stress.

Nuts: A handful of nuts such as almonds, pista and walnuts helps protect against heart diseases, lowers cholesterol, prevent inflammation in arteries and protect against effects of stress [6].

Raw veggies: Crunchy raw vegetables help ease stress by relieving a clenched jaw and put away tension.

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On A Final Note…

Everyone needs a little stress to perform well, but too much stress or tension disrupts the body regulatory [7][8]. Apart from the diet, try getting a good night's sleep, get musical, laugh your heart out even if it's alone, breathe deeply, exercise and stay active.

Mahima Setia, Clinical Nutritionist

Read more about: stress mental health therapy health
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