Thursday, May 04, 2006

Offsetting the Effects of Stress

It seems most of us are running so fast through our days, we literally feel as if we’ve completed a marathon when we finally collapse at night. What effect is this stressful existence having on our health and happiness? A negative one it would seem, as it has been estimated that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems.

Stress is an unavoidable aspect of life; however it seems that today we are affected by more sources of stress, in more severe forms, than ever before. In fact, a recent United Nations report called stress, “The 20th Century Epidemic.”

Stress is part of a vicious circle that includes anxiety and depression. Each one contributes to the other, with negative effects being seen in the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and several internal organs. When we are stressed our bodies release additional adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related hormones. Over stimulation of these hormones can lead to a state of severe exhaustion commonly known as “burn out.”

Stress is related to - and greatly affected by - nutrition and diet. Adequate levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help the body deal with the negative aspects of stress. Healthy foods and optimal protein and fibre intake can help balance blood sugar levels and may help offset the effects of stress and depression.


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