Saturday, 28 January 2012

Nutrition management of stress in Kenya

Stress is the most common cause of sickness worldwide today among the youth, and the population at large causing unspeakable suffering, use of huge amounts of money in medical bills and loss of numerous working days. Stress refers to non specific response of the body to any demand or strain made upon it.The aim of stress management is to help the individual become more resilient and able to cope rather than to take away the stressful life events. A well balanced diet is crucial in promoting health and stress relief. Vigilance is required when making food choices for stress management which should be as natural as possible, as there is a lot of junk food posing as health food for stress relief in the market. Junk food is stress causing!
Foods to eat for stress relief
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates in stress management triggers release of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin which has soothing effect. Good sources of carbohydrates include rice, potatoes, green bananas, bread, air-popped popcorn etc
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to improve absorption of the amino acid L-Tryptophan, which causes the body to release serotonin making you feel good and relaxed as a result of stress relief.
Protein: Include sufficient protein food in your daily diet for effective stress management. Consuming adequate protein stabilizes blood sugar and prevents emotional swings and fatigue leading to stress relief. Good protein sources include meat, mushrooms, nuts, hard boiled eggs, Tofu and other soy products, dairy, beans.
Fiber: Stress causes stomach cramps and constipation. You require at least 25 grams of fiber daily to keep your digestive system working well during stress management for effective stress relief. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are natural sources of fiber and are good for stress relief. Eat whole fruits instead of juice and whole-grain instead of processed grain for better stress management.
Unsaturated fats: Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) like Omega 3’s are great for stress management as they can prevent and relief anxiety and depression. Good food sources of EFAs include salmon, tuna, sardines, Fish oil pills, and walnuts. Cook your food with a small amount of oil daily to supply EFAs for stress relief.
Water: Take 2 litres of water daily for good health, stress management and stress relief.

Foods to avoid for good health
Saturated fats: Consumption of foods rich in saturated fats cause obesity and put unnecessary stress on the cardiovascular system. A high fat diet is believed to contribute various cancers.
Sugar: Sugar has no essential nutrients and only provides a short-term boost of energy resulting in exhaustion of the adrenal glands which can lead to irritability, poor concentration and depression.
Caffeine: This is found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. It causes the release of adrenaline undermining stress relief. There is a link between caffeine intake, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Reduce the consumption of caffeine gradually during stress management to avoid developing withdrawal symptoms.
Alcoholic drinks: Alcohol is a major cause of stress; unfortunately most people take to drinking alcohol for stress relief. This undermines stress management as Alcohol stimulates the secretion of adrenaline leading to nervous tension, irritability and insomnia. Alcohol also impairs the ability of the liver to detoxify the body, while several toxins are produced during stress counteracting stress relief.
Smoke: Many people turn to cigarettes for stress management which seem to work in the short term but are harmful in the long run. Cigarette smoking is said to be responsible for a variety of cancers.
Salt: Excess sodium increases the blood pressure, exhausts adrenal glands, and causes emotional instability. Use potassium rather than sodium salt and avoid junk foods which are high in salt.