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Diet Therapy - Nutrition

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Balanced nutrition is essential to maintaining overall good health, but it also can affect your capacity to cope with stress. When you are going through a period of stress, you need more of all nutrients, particularly the B vitamins, which affect the nervous system, and calcium, which is needed to counteract the lactic acid your tense muscles produce. Likewise, if you are lacking nutrients, your body will not be equipped to handle stress effectively.

Eat a variety of foods to ensure that you consume all of the forty to sixty nutrients you need to stay healthy. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids (from proteins), essential fatty acids (from vegetable oil and animal fat), and energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. While most foods contain more than one nutrient, no single food provides adequate amounts of all nutrients. More information on your daily vitamin and mineral requirements can be found here.

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Try to maintain a diet of mostly whole (unprocessed) foods. Stay away from caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate), which causes nervousness and inhibits sleep if too much is ingested. Caffeine causes a fight-or- flight response in your body and uses up your reserves of the B vitamins, which are important in coping with stress. Alcohol also depletes your body's B vitamins, and can disrupt sleep and impair your judgment or clarity of thought. Avoid sugar. It provides no essential nutrients and can cause an immediate "high" followed by a prolonged "low." Please refer to our diet section for more information.

Studies have shown that the body depletes its stores of nutrients when under stress, mainly protein and the B vitamins as well as vitamins C and A. A deficiency of magnesium, which helps muscles relax, has been linked to "Type A" or high-stress personalities. If you are under prolonged stress or are at risk for hypertension  , consume foods high in potassium, such as orange juice, squash, potatoes, apricots, limes, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and peaches. You also should increase your intake of calcium, which is found in yogurt, cheese, tofu, and chick- peas.

If you find that you have difficulty managing stress and often feel fatigued or stressed out, you might want to examine your diet for deficiencies in certain nutrients. If you are deficient in certain nutrients, you will need to alter your diet or take supplements.

Since every person is unique, nutritional needs vary to some degree. It will probably take several months to change your diet and establish healthy eating habits. Experimenting and taking the time to reform your eating will have very positive immediate and long- term effects. Choose foods that you enjoy and try to make meals pleasurable times. Eat a relaxed meal. Continue your healthy diet and supplements even after the period of stress has passed so that your body will be best prepared to cope with the next stressful situation you encounter. The goal is to maintain maximum health with good nutrition, exercise, and active stress management .

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The B vitamins are important for the nervous system. They have been found to stabilize the body's lactate levels, which are responsible for anxiety attacks.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is particularly important. It is a known energizer that also exerts a calming effect.

Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) helps reduce anxiety and has a calming effect on the nerves.

Niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B-3) is important in the production of certain brain chemicals. In large doses, it has a calming effect.

Include pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) if you lack the enzymes to convert vitamin B6 to its active form.

Calcium and magnesium are important to prevent nervous tension. They relax a tense and overwrought nervous system. Calcium is a natural tranquilizer. Magnesium helps relieve anxiety  ,tension  , nervousness, muscular spasms, and ties. Take magnesium in combination with calcium. Take them before bed to improve sleep. Alcohol robs the body of magnesium, causing nervousness and irritability.

Vitamin C is necessary for proper functioning of adrenal glands and brain chemistry. In large doses, it can have a powerful tranquilizing effect and is known to decrease anxiety. Take the variety with bioflavonoids. It is very important for dealing with stress. (Consult a physician before you start any mega vitamin therapy.)

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Potassium is essential for proper functioning of the adrenal glands.

Low levels of selenium have been found in people with anxiety disorder. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects the heart.

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is an important physiological agent involved in over 40 biochemical reactions in the body. Is a natural anti-depressant and has a calming effect.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) - This amino acid reportedly helps in anxiety.

Vitamin E helps transport oxygen to brain cells and protect them from free-radical damage.

Zinc has a calming effect on the central nervous system.

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  • Vitamin B complex, 50 mg one to three times daily
  • P-5-P, 100 mg
  • Extra vitamin B-1 (thiamine) - 50 mg 3 times daily, with meals.
  • Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) - 50 mg 3 times daily.
  • Niacinamide - 100 mg 3 times daily.
  • Caution- Do not substitute niacin for niacinamide. Niacin can be toxic in such high doses.
  • Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids - 5,000-10,000 mg daily, in divided doses.
  • Vitamin E - 400 IU or as directed in the label. Use d-alpha-tocopherol form.
  • Calcium - 2,000 mg daily
  • Magnesium - 500-1,000 mg daily
  • Potassium - 99 mg daily
  • Selenium - 100-200 mcg daily

Caution: If you are pregnant, do not exceed 40 mcg daily.

  • Zinc - 50-80 mg daily. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplements.
  • S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) - 400 mg twice daily.

Caution: Do not use if you have manic-depressive disorder or take prescription anti-depressants.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)- 750 milligrams three times a day after meals.

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