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Bryan Bariatric Advantage
Bryan West Campus
2300 S. 16th St.
Lincoln, NE 68502
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Managing Stress is Key to Good Health

Do you have a go-to comfort food when you feel stressed? If so, you are not alone. During times of stress, many of us reach for foods or snacks – often those high in saturated fats or added sugars. The fact that stress can impact food choices is not news. However, there might be more to the relationship between food and stress than you know.

Our Body's Fight-or-Flight Response

Your central nervous system releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol when you feel anxious or stressed. These hormones trigger the fight-or-flight response, which gets your body ready for action. Symptoms of this include a rapid heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and breathing rate. Being in a chronic state of stress can cause long term health problems. In addition to feeling anxious, you may become depressed, struggle to get a good night's sleep or experience digestive issues.

Can Certain Nutrients Ease Stress?

Research linking certain nutrients to stress management is limited. Recent studies have focused on nutrients our brain needs to function normally. These include antioxidants or B vitamins. While some studies have looked at how supplements may help manage stress, results haven’t been definitive. As these nutrients are already important in a healthy diet, the best way to get them is through the foods you eat. For example, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants along with other nutrients that may work together to promote health. And many foods provide B vitamins naturally, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beans and meats.

Some studies also report a potential link between low levels of vitamin D and stress. These studies haven’t proven if stress levels increase or decrease in response to vitamin D intake. However, your body does need it to function normally. Foods that contain vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, fortified dairy and soy products and some mushrooms that are exposed to UV light.

You may see supplements that claim to help manage stress. However, since evidence for this is limited, talk with your health care provider before taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

Stress-Busters

When it comes to food and stress, one of the best things you can do for your body is to stick to a balanced, healthful diet. Get plenty of regular physical activity – as little as five minutes of exercise a day can be great for reducing stress. A registered dietitian can help you create a healthy eating plan that includes specific food preferences and goals for physical activity.

Other ways to help ease stress include:

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