Monday, December 21, 2009

In response to a question about stress

A reader asked if I have any food and natural remedy suggestions to help in coping with stress. Here are my recommendations:

1) First of all, on a daily basis try to take some time away from the source of stress -- this is harder for us marrieds-with-children when the source of stress is something like a teething child or a tired spouse, but if you can at all get some downtime just for you, be sure to make it a priority.
2) Take high-vitamin cod liver oil. See my other posts about this and just start doing it. When we are under stress our bodies become depleted of vitamin A, and CLO is the best backup source that we can take as a daily supplement. Vitamin A is needed to convert cholesterol into our hormones, and hormones will help keep us calm and on an even keel. Also, the high levels of vitamin D in CLO will support the immune system. Vitamins A and D work synergistically and really do help keep us well even in difficult circumstances or in the face of fatigue, stress, germ exposure, and cold weather.
3) Avoid stimulants as much as you can. These include things like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods (which contain many additives), and white flour -- easier said than done around the holidays when we are constantly eating cookies, drinking hot chocolate, and having drinks at parties! These foods put stress on the body, deplete us of important nutrients and minerals, and have the effect of jolting the adrenal glands to make them produce extra energy. This can end up making us feel even more stressed out because our adrenaline response is constantly activated. Think of it this way: each time you stimulate your adrenal glands, they continue firing for a full 24 hours. So if you have coffee every morning, guess what? your adrenal glands never get a day off. This spells big trouble when you come under additional stress, because your adrenals are likely fatigued and you will be tempted to stimulate them even more than usual to keep yourself going.
4) Fats from animals raised on grass are an important source of the cholesterol mentioned above which helps our bodies make the appropriate hormones. These fats are also great sources of the all-important vitamins A and D (also mentioned above). Focus on foods like butter, cream, egg yolks, lard, chicken fat (think chicken skin & roasting drippings!), and other meat fats. Fat from oily fish is wonderful as well. [When it comes to dairy, choose raw if you have the option, but if not always get organic, grass-fed & unhomogenized if you can, and never ever ultra-pasteurized.]
5) Treat yourself to something a special caffeine-free tea (try to get something that has only herbs, flowers, and fruits in it -- no natural flavors or other additives), a warm bath, or a massage. If you have a favorite way of relaxing, such as meditation, yoga, stretching, playing an instrument, or taking a walk in the woods, by all means make time for it! We all know that doing these things are important, but it's so easy to do everything else first...and then never have time for relaxation.

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