In the third part of this article series, let’s talk about the power of our mind as well as vitamins and minerals.
Did you know that when you have stress your body increases its need for certain nutrients, specially magnesium, zinc and the B vitamins which are crucial for energy metabolism and cognitive function?
The B vitamins, which are a water soluble 8 vitamin complex, can be very helpful for individuals who suffer from anxiety, mood swings or have a sleep disorder. They are found in a wide range of foods including whole grains, meat, fruits, eggs, and dark leafy vegetables. However, during the cooking process some of their benefits are lost. B vitamins are also crucial for cognitive health, and if you have chronic stress or sleep disorders then supplementing with vitamin B can have additional health benefits and improve your life quality.
Magnesium plays a very important role in the body. It helps in relaxing the muscle, it activates over 300 enzymes in the body and it improves sleep quality. As an example, magnesium is critical for glucose to produce ATP (energy). About 27% of the body’s magnesium is found in the muscles and around 60% in the bones (some is bound to phosphate).
Zinc also activates many enzymes too in the body. In addition, it plays an important role in hormone activities including growth hormone, thymic hormone (thymus) and insulin. Zinc is very important for our immune function and for wound healing.
Adequate amounts of protein, especially animal based protein such as grass-fed beef and wild fish, also help replenish the body’s nutrients and improve the way that our body can resist stress, especially the essential amino acid tryptophan. It is found, for example, in chicken, turkey, whole milk, nuts, seeds, oats, salmon, and spinach. Tryptophan helps to make melatonin, which can improve sleep, and serotonin which can help stress, mood swings and control appetite.
Creatine also plays an important role in energy metabolism, helping the body to fight stress. Lean meat is the richest sources of creatine.
Stress also disturbs our body’s digestion process. When we are stressed, the body reduces digestion and depletes nutrients which, in the long term, can lead to many other conditions too. The digestive tract is a complex network that must be in balance to work correctly, which is one of the reasons why chronic stress can actually increase belly fat. Relaxation techniques can improve digestion and reduce gastric acid.
Now the question, do you believe in the power of the mind? You have probably heard of the placebo effect, which originates from your mind. We have to power to heal and repair, however we have mostly lost the connection on how to do it. We are living a world of distractions, with everything around us making our mind always busy. Of course, we have become used to this so it has become normal for us. Most of us can not even stay still for more than a few minutes, and we still are wondering why we have stress and other related health issues.
We must start to connect ourselves again, like our ancestors did. The best way to start is to take a break each day from all of the distractions around you, including your phone, your tv, noise, and as much as possible from other people too. Just you. Create a connection with your breathing and be aware what is really going on in your body. When you listen, can you hear your heart beat? There’s an old saying that everything that you need is already inside you, we just need to pay attention and listen. If we have created something, such as stress inside us, then we are the only one who can dissolve it. Everything else is just a support process. If everything is so overwhelming, pick one of my suggestions and try it and observe your reaction without judgment.
In the next part of this series I will look at natural healing herbs and how we can use them to improve our health.
• CLINICAL NUTRITION: A FUNCTIONAL APPROACH (second edition)
Ayda Ersoy, Nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.), Master Trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro), Registered Yoga Teacher, Founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness, Founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.