mnhc

Nutrients to Nourish the Nervous System

Naturopathic Support During Times of Stress: Nutrients to Nourish the Nervous System.

The past few years have left most of us feeling weary and deflated, and rightly so! Many of us have been running in fight or flight for the majority of this time, and stress can churn through a lot of our vital nutrients.

Our Nervous systems and adrenals run off specific nutrients, and when these become depleted after long periods of high turnover, these systems begin to function sub-optimally. This Reduces our ability to cope with stress further, and can contribute to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, brain fog, poor memory, fatigue, irritability and overwhelm.

This blog will look at a few key nutrients, which our body not only leans on when in times of duress, but also nutrients which exert calming, energizing, and restoring actions on our nervous and adrenal system.

Vitamin C

As you may know our adrenal glands produce our stress hormones, something you may not have known, is that our adrenal glands contain our body’s largest reservoir of vitamin C! This is because Vitamin C is an integral part of the stress response, supporting cortisol’s action, counteracting the oxidative damage that can occur during times of high stress, and supporting the immune system to prevent infection and disease.

Vitamin C in both supplemental and food form (1 x kiwifruit per day) has actually been shown to improve mood and decrease depression, anxiety and psychological stress scores in a variety of studies.

Therefore, during and after long periods of stress it is important to replenish vitamin C stores to nourish your adrenal glands.

Tip: Add tomatoes, capsicum, kiwifruit, citrus, broccoli, and brussel sprouts to your diet, or come visit our Naturopath in Malvern for some dietitian / nutrition advice.

Magnesium

Most people know magnesium for the calming blanket that it is. This effect is due to its ability to increase the neurotransmitter GABA, this neurotransmitter basically tells our brain to slow down and relax, hence the calming effects.

This calming effect is furthered, by Magnesium’s ability to reduce excessive stress hormones in the body, therefore mitigating symptoms which can be caused by increased levels of cortisol; such as anxiety, depression, brain fog, poor memory and concentration and insomnia.

Magnesium can also support stable blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar levels during stressful times are important, firstly because they support stable energy levels throughout the day reducing feeling of fatigue and brain fog. Secondly because when our blood sugar levels are unstable; meaning they have high spikes and dramatic lows, this drastic change can cause us to produce more cortisol – which we already have in excess.

Therefore, Magnesium is an essential nutrient friend to have during and after periods of high stress.

Tip: Increase leafy greens, legumes and have smaller amounts of dark chocolate (> 70% cacao), nuts and seeds, prunes and wholegrains.

B vitamins

B vitamins as you may know, usually come in a complex, this is because they work synergistically together to perform a number functions in our body. They are essential to our energy production and manufacturing of hormones and neurotransmitters. Because of this, B vitamins play a major role in our ability to cope with stress, and our mental and physical wellness as a whole.

Due to B-vitamins major role in our body, during times of stress, b vitamins are rapidly depleted, and this can quickly lead to symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and low mood.

Tip: B vitamins are found in animal products, wholegrains, leafy greens, legumes, seeds and nuts, and nutritional yeast flakes.

Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are one of the essential fatty acids, which our body needs for healthy brain function and hormone production. These fats are amazing for any mood related disorders, which can arise during times of stress as we mentioned before. Omega 3 is also a major anti-inflammatory in the body, and can counteract any damage stress may be causing internally.

Healthy fats are also great for blood sugar regulation, therefore including an omega 3 source in each of your meals is an easy way to meet your levels and keep you feeling energized throughout the day.

Tip: Omega 3 fatty acids are high in chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring. 

Zinc

Zinc is similar to magnesium in its ability to increase GABA and therefore relax and regulate mood. Furthermore, Zinc is also needed for the production of serotonin (our happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleepy hormone) in our bodies, and is therefore of key importance when depression or insomnia is presenting.

Zinc is also required for stomach acid and maintaining a healthy gut lining, and therefore is vital to keeping our digestive system healthy and absorbing all our other nutrients.

Tips: Zinc foods include red meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds especially pumpkin, nuts, wholegrains and eggs. 

Protein

The amino acids in protein are vital to the production of all your neurotransmitters, as well as your energy and hormones. Protein is also very helpful for blood sugar regulation, as it slows absorption of glucose from the gut, and therefore gives you sustained energy throughout the day.

Often when we are stressed, we reach for simple carbohydrates (refined sugar, white bread, soft drinks, candy etc..) for energy. As simple carbohydrates are broken down rapidly by the body, they can lead to blood sugar spikes and then crashes. Usually presenting as the terrible 3pm slump in energy.

By making sure you have protein with each of your meals you can prevent this slump, nourish your physical and mental health, and give yourself more energy to get what you need to do, done!

Tip: Protein rich foods include: meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes and eggs.

When it comes to nutrients and stress, the aim of the game is to stick to nourishing wholefood meals, with a variety of plant foods, healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates.

There are many other nutrients which can help with stress, always feel free to come talk to one of our Malvern Natural Health Care Naturopaths about what nutrients would be best suited to you and your needs!

Our holistic Health Clinic is located in Melbourne, with easy access to Malvern, Toorak, Glen iris, and Mount Waverly. We offer Melbourne a range of support including dietician, naturopathy, herbal medicine, remedial massage, homeopathic medicine, holistic medicine, and integrative medicine.

If you are looking for holistic health care In Melbourne, we have you covered!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.