Healing Kitchen

Stress can exhaust natural defenses and activate stress hormones which may deplete nutrient and energy reserves. Certain nutrients can help the body to cope and restore equilibrium. Complex carbohydrates should be the centerpiece of each meal to help the body deal with stress. The nervous and immune systems require plenty of B vitamins so they can counteract fatigue brought on by stress. The B vitamins include niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12. In addition to the food sources listed below for individual B vitamins, brewer's yeast, breakfast cereals, and some instant breakfast mixes are good sources of several B vitamins. Foods rich in vitamin C, zinc, and selenium are useful for supporting the immune system. Since cold sores are often linked to stress, lysine-rich foods may be beneficial because of their role in preventing and managing cold sores. Foods containing calcium and magnesium are valuable too, because of their soothing effects on muscles. Consuming foods high in tryptophan and tyrosine are worthwhile because they help bolster the nervous system. When stress induces diarrhea, foods high in soluble fiber may be useful, while insoluble fiber-rich foods are beneficial for managing constipation, which may also be brought on by stress. Some popular "comfort foods" during stress include mashed potatoes, warm milk, and pasta. Mashed potatoes and pasta are complex carbohydrates, while milk is high in calcium.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why

Biotin assists the body in metabolizing protein, fats, and carbohydrates from food. It is important during times of stress because it plays a special role in helping the body to use glucose and promotes overall equilibrium along with the other B vitamins.
Leading Food Sources of biotin: Cauliflower, Eggs, Peanuts, Cheese, fresh

Calcium is needed for normal communication among nerve cells and for muscle contraction, all vital during the body's battle against stress. Some research indicates that dietary calcium may help lower blood pressure, which can be raised during times of stress.
Leading Food Sources of calcium: Broccoli, Amaranth, Bok choy, Milk, Kale, Beans, dried, Cheese, fresh, Tofu, Soybeans, Salmon, Yogurt

complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are an excellent energy source for the body during times of stress. Research indicates that complex carbohydrates may soothe the stress response by replenishing levels of the brain chemical serotonin.
Leading Food Sources of complex carbohydrates: Broccoli, Potatoes, Squash, winter, Rice, brown, Blackberries, Pasta, wheat

fiber, insoluble
Constipation sometimes occurs during stress, so consuming insoluble fiber is beneficial because it bulks up stools and eases elimination.
Leading Food Sources of fiber, insoluble: Figs, Peas, fresh, Beans, dried, Raisins & Currants, Wheat, Prunes, Rice, brown

fiber, soluble
When stress is associated with diarrhea, soluble fiber is useful because it helps absorb excess water and lessen diarrhea.
Leading Food Sources of fiber, soluble: Carrots, Beans, dried, Oats, Apples, Barley, Peas, fresh

folic acid
Folic acid is an important member of the B vitamin family and is required along with the others when the body is coping with stress. Research suggests that folic acid may help depression, which is often associated with stress.
Leading Food Sources of folic acid: Asparagus, Beets, Spinach, Brussels sprouts, Avocados, Broccoli, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Peas, fresh, Turkey, Cabbage, Savoy, Bok choy

Lysine may be useful in managing and preventing cold sores, which are often early signs of stress. Studies suggest that lysine has antiviral properties because of its interference in the replication of the virus responsible for cold sores, herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Leading Food Sources of lysine: Chicken, Turkey, Potatoes, Cheese, fresh, Soy products, Soybeans, Eggs, Milk, Fish, lean, Beef

Magnesium is beneficial during stress because it helps muscles to relax.
Leading Food Sources of magnesium: Spinach, Sunflower seeds, Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Oysters, Brazil nuts, Quinoa, Avocados, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Almonds, Barley

As a member of the B vitamin family, niacin is required along with the other B vitamins when the body is coping with stress. A diet rich in niacin is valuable during stress because niacin helps the body to release energy from carbohydrates. It also plays a role in controlling blood sugar and maintaining proper nervous system function.
Leading Food Sources of niacin: Rice, brown, Pomegranates, Tuna, Lamb, Wheat, Turkey, Chicken

pantothenic acid
The body relies on pantothenic acid (also know as vitamin B5) to help produce stress hormones during times of psychological difficulty (emotional upset, depression, anxiety) as well as other types of strain, including migraines, chronic fatigue, and quitting smoking. It is commonly taken as part of a vitamin B complex supplement for this purpose.
Leading Food Sources of pantothenic acid: Avocados, Mushrooms, Yogurt, Salmon, Sunflower seeds

riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin is beneficial during stress because it converts other B vitamins to useful forms so that they can do their work. In addition, riboflavin helps bolster the immune system which can be run down during times of stress. Riboflavin aids in the production of infection-fighting immune cells.
Leading Food Sources of riboflavin (vitamin B2): Avocados, Duck, Pork, fresh, Clams, Milk, Yogurt, Lamb, Mushrooms

thiamin (vitamin B1)
Thiamin is an important member of the B vitamin family and is required along with the others when the body is coping with stress. Thiamin is beneficial during the body's battle against stress because it is essential for converting carbohydrates in foods into energy, while also promoting healthy nerves.
Leading Food Sources of thiamin (vitamin B1): Asparagus, Tuna, Brazil nuts, Salmon, Pork, fresh, Pasta, wheat, Avocados, Soy milk, Oats, Mussels, Sunflower seeds, Wheat, Rice, white, Barley

vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps the body to cope with stress because it works in concert with other B vitamins. B12 assists the body in converting food to energy, while also supporting the nervous system.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin B12: Beef, Oysters, Trout, Crab, Clams, Tuna, Yogurt, Lamb

vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps the body to manufacture brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) essential for the body to cope with stress, such as serotonin. Vitamin B6 may also help boost the immune system during times of stress.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin B6: Sweet potatoes, Avocados, Sunflower seeds, Tuna, Chick-peas, Salmon, Pork, fresh, Potatoes, Turkey, Chicken, Bok choy, Rice, brown, Barley, Mangoes, Bananas

vitamin C
As an immune-boosting antioxidant, vitamin C supports the immune system during stress. In addition, some research suggests that vitamin C may lessen symptoms and shorten the duration of colds, which may be brought on by stress.
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Potatoes, Strawberries, Tangerines & other mandarins, Peppers, bell, red, Kiwi fruit, Oranges

Zinc is useful in the management of stress because it help support the immune system.
Leading Food Sources of zinc: Barley, Turkey, Wheat, Lamb, Crab, Oysters, Beef, Chicken

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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