The Science of Stress

The Science of Stress

Stress is a state of mind. It is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. It’s often difficult to understand the impact our state of mind has on our health, yet stress can have quite a negative impact on the body.

The consequences of extreme stress

Extreme physical or mental stress can affect the body in six ways:

  • The ability to feel pain is dulled or nonexistent.
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase.
  • Attention and sight become more focused.
  • Breaths per minute increase to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
  • Hormones fluctuate to help supply energy and improve focus.
  • Sweating increases to cool muscles and ready them for the flight-or-fight response.

Minimizing negative impact through nutrition

There are many ways to manage stress, including regular exercise, plenty of sleep, engaging in positive relationships, and of course, avoiding stress when possible. Food, however, can help your body more effectively manage the effects of stress. Here are a few nutrients your body may need more of when your mind is stressed, and the foods that supply them and help support a better mood.

  • Potassium = leafy greens
  • Carbohydrates = fruits and vegetables
  • Chromium = shellfish
  • Zinc = seafood
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K = colorful food variety
  • Selenium = nuts and seeds
  • Magnesium = dark chocolate
  • Phosphorous = meats and cheeses
  • Fat = high-quality olive oil, butter, ghee
  • Protein = meats, cheese, eggs, fish
  • Calcium = dairy products

If you find that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly aren’t quite enough to improve mental health and manage stress, talk to your doctor about counseling, meditation or other breath awareness exercises, and other options to help you manage stress and stay resilient through all of life’s challenges.