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We all suffer from different kinds of stress in our lives from school pressures, relationship issues, work deadlines and, especially at the moment, financial worries.

A well balance diet is crucial in preserving health and helping to reduce stress. We will look at things to avoid and things to introduce into our diet to combat stress - what some experts call the silent killer!

How to avoid stress:
Certain foods and drinks act as powerful stimulants to the body and hence are a direct cause of stress. This stimulation, although quite pleasurable in the short term, may be quite harmful in the long run.
Here are a few of them:

Caffeine - found in coffee, tea, chocolate and coke etc. - it causes the release of adrenaline, thus increasing the level of stress in the body. It is suggested that there is a link between caffeine intake and high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Be careful in reducing the caffeine consumption as you may suffer withdrawal symptoms normally in the form of headaches, if withdrawn too quickly. Reduce slowly and replace with herbal teas, fruit juices and water.

Alcohol - red wine in moderation has been shown to benefit the cardio vascular system. However it is a major cause of stress. The irony is that most people take to drinking to combat stress, but in reality they make it worse. Alcohol and stress in combination are quite deadly as it stimulates the production of adrenaline resulting in problems such as nervous tension, irritability and insomnia.

Smoking - again very harmful to the body - the system is so taken up with processing the harmful chemicals produced by smoking that it cannot produce enough hormones for the body to deal with stress. Cigarette smoke has been shown to be responsible for a variety of cancers, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Sugar - has no essential nutrients. It provides a short term boost of energy through the body which may result in the exhaustion of the adrenal glands which are responsible for producing the hormones to help us deal with stress. This can therefore lead to irritability, poor concentration and depression. Keep blood sugar constant. Do not use sugar as a pick me up.

How to minimise stress:
The body needs to be kept as calm and balanced as possible so try to avoid or at least minimise the stimulants outlined above. The following suggestions should also help:

Keep blood sugar levels balanced - Do not go long periods without eating. Eat regular meals and snacks and drink lots of water.

Eat protein with every meal and snack and try to eat wholegrain carbohydrates rather than white past, rice and bread.

Eat more fibre - Stress may result in cramps and constipation. Fruit, vegetables and whole grains are excellent forms of fibre as they improve the transit of food through the body. Eat vegetables - 3-5 portions of vegetables per day may also improve your brains production of Serotonin. The correct balance of Serotonin in the brain is essential to feeling good and coping with everyday stress. Green, yellow and orange vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins and phyto chemicals which also boost immune response and protect against disease.

Oily Fish - Eat salmon and mackerel at least 2 times per week. This contains essential fats which are very calming on the system.

So what you eat really can make a difference and help to keep your body calm throughout periods of stress.

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Nutritionist based in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire covering Hemel Hempstead, Tring, St. Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Watford, Berkhamsted, Harpenden, Chesham, Bovingdon, Luton, Hitchin, Hatfield and Hertford. Copyright © Nutrition4Life 2020 | Designed by Boxmoor Direct