• Kate

Ways to manage acute stress with good nutrition

Many of us have been in a situation where we’ve had to face something that we have been dreading, a job interview, work presentation or exam and may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Clammy hands

  • Dry mouth

  • Upset stomach

  • Abdominal pains

  • Sleep problems

  • Tension in shoulders

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety

According to the American Psychological Association, acute stress comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future, its short term and immediate, thrilling in small doses, but too much is exhausting. (1)

The symptoms are mainly caused by stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol being released into the bloodstream.

Our children feel pressure to perform well in tests and exams and it is the responsibility of everyone involved in growing and educating them to recognise acute stress and help manage it.

Good nutrition is vital in managing acute stress however, healthy eating isn’t generally seen as a priority when sugary food and drinks are consumed to get through energy slumps and many of us don’t realise the impact stress has on depleting vitamins and minerals in our bodies;

  • B Vitamins - produce the hormone serotonin which improves mood and reduces fatigue. B6 helps to produce GABA, an amino acid that calms the nervous system. Studies (2) suggest that GABA could work effectively as a natural aid to help with relaxation and anxiety,

  • Zinc also helps balance mood.A trial (3) concluded that increased zinc levels were associated with decreases in anxiety in a group of children at risk of zinc deficiency.

  • During stress, magnesium is released into the blood stream to help calm nerves, relax muscles, and help with energy production.

  • Vitamin C helps combat the weakening effect that stress has on our immune systems, supports adrenal glands to produce the energy and stress hormones we need.As an antioxidant it helps combat the free radicals in our bodies promoted by stress.Free radicals cause damage to our cells, protein and DNA which can trigger disease in the body. (4)

top tips:

  • Have regular meals and snacks with a good protein source to regulate blood sugar and balance energy.

  • Eat a rainbow of fruit and veg to increase antioxidants, Vitamins B & C and Magnesium.

  • Increase Omega 3 foods to promote serotonin, which helps control mood, sleep and memory. A study on Omega 3 (5) concluded that they appear effective in the prevention of stress.

  • Have someone to talk to during periods of stress.

  • Practice deep breathing and yoga for relaxation.

  • Get 8 hours sleep and switch off all technology at least 1 hour before bedtime.

  • Bathe with 1 cup of Epsom salts twice a week to help replace diminishing magnesium.

Top foods to help manage stress:

  • dark green leafy veg

  • wild Alaskan salmon

  • citrus fruits

  • raw cacao powder

  • brown rice

  • chick peas

  • oats

  • bananas

  • walnut

  • almonds

  • broccoli

  • asparagus

  • pineapple

  • berries

  • lentils

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