Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Living in the modern world brings all kinds of stress into our lives.  Stress is unavoidable, but we can take steps to help lower the effects this stress has on our health.  One important step we can take is to watch what we eat in order to ensure that we are getting adequate vitamins and nutrients.  Some types of foods exacerbate the damage caused by stress.

The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends a diet low in fat, high in fiber and complex carbohydrates combined with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Below is their recommended lists of foods to include and foods to avoid: 

Foods to Include 
High-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods: Scientists believe carbohydrates cause the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that relaxes us. And lots of fiber is helpful in preventing late-night binging. Some examples of healthy comfort food include baked sweet potatoes, minestrone soup, or sautéed vegetables over rice. 
Fruits and vegetables: Chronic stress can weaken our ability to fight disease. By upping our intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, we can boost our immune system. Acorn squash and carrots, for example, are great sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene. And citrus fruits provide plenty of vitamin C, another stress-busting antioxidant. 
Foods to Avoid 
High-fat foods: Fatty foods such as meat or cheese dishes and many baked goods thicken our blood which in turn makes us feel tired, even lethargic. This is clearly not a good way to reduce stress! Even just one high-fat meal can increase our risk of a heart attack. 
Caffeine: Many of us deal with a stress-induced lack of sleep by turning to coffee, tea, and colas. Unfortunately, caffeine stays in our systems longer than many realize. Cutting back on caffeine can help with both sleeping problems and jitters. 
Sugar: As a carbohydrate, sugar tends to calm us. The problem with sugar is that it's a simple carbohydrate so it enters and leaves the bloodstream rapidly, causing us to, in effect, "crash." On the other hand, complex carbohydrates such as pasta, beans, and lentils, the starchy parts of foods soothe without bringing us down.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Is it Wed. already? My week has been a bit hectic as my work schedule is off.

I have mentioned this before, but why not say it! One cup a day has really made a difference in my day. In addition, not ending the day with a glass of wine, rather herbal tea. I now sleep so well.

Side note: I was working late last night and did not catch "Food Revolution," but it's on my Hulu queue this morning.

Cherie said...

Shona - coffee, lol! Of course, I cannot give up my iced tea. Although it has caffeine, it also provides some health benefits. ;)