Stress – The Common Effects on our Health

Nutrition Advisor, Eileen Lane looks at the common health problems associated with stress.
Nutrition Advisor, Eileen Lane looks at the common health problems associated with stress.

STRESS. It affects us all in some form or other. There are many different incidents of stress from being stuck in traffic and late for an appointment or the shock of a utility bill to more serious stress of an unhealthy relationship or being very unhappy in your current situation. Some stress is necessary to motivate our bodies to get up and go. However ongoing, serious stress which is not addressed can have detrimental effects on the body, both mentally and physically.

Common effects of stress on the body:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on behavior:

  • Overeating or under eating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal

The body has specific nutritional needs during times of stress. The adrenal glands deal with stress and require the following to function properly:

Vitamin C Broccoli, cauliflower, orange, strawberries, peppers, grapefruit, spuds, brussel sprouts, kale

Vitamin A Egg, cheddar cheese, whole milk, carrots, sweet potato, spinach, kale, butternut squash, peppers

Vitamin E Sunflower seeds, sweet potato, salmon, eggs, almonds, olives, spinach, blueberries

Essential Fatty Acids oily fish, nuts and seeds

B Vitamins wholegrains, leafy greens, oats, chicken, turkey

Chromium (to help alleviate sugar cravings which in turn will help the adrenal glands) lentils, chicken, romaine lettuce, onions, tomato

It is important to eat a diet low in sugar at all times, but especially during stressful periods. A high sugar intake can upset the adrenal glands. Stimulants and alcohol can also have a negative effect on the body’s stress levels.

Exercise can be a very effective tool in managing stress – find an exercise that you love and do it!

Time out – taking time out for you and your body to relax is essential to dealing with life’s stresses. Every individual has their own method of relaxation. Meditation or yoga can be very helpful, chatting to a friend or writing in a journal.

It is advisable to try to address the stressors in your life. Consult a professional if appropriate and speak to your GP for some help.

Confidential one-to-one appointments are available with Eileen Lane – Nutrition Advisor at Abbeyfeale or at All Therapy Centre, Rock St., Tralee. She can be contacted on 087 3950063 or by email on Lane – Nutrition Advisor

The advice of a Nutrition Advisor does not replace that of a G.P or other healthcare practitioner.