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Stress management

Stress is omni-present and an unavoidable part of life. It is how we react to it that makes a difference to our state of health.
Hindustan Times | By Dr Anjali Mukerjee, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2011 05:23 PM IST

Common knowledge may attribute sickness and disease to physical causes like bacterial infection, food habits, late nights, lack of exercise or genetics. But when faced with people who follow every rule in the book and yet fall prey to diseases, this explanation seems inadequate. Studies indicate that at least 25 per cent suffering from stress tend to develop disease than others.

However, stress is omni-present and an unavoidable part of life. It is how we react to it that makes a difference to our state of health. Researchers estimate about 80 per cent of major illnesses like cancer, skin disorders, cardiovascular disease and even backache are related to the mind. Stress is perceived as a psychological problem but it has physical effects.

Stress hormones (cortisone and cortisol) suppress the immune system, making the body an easy prey to cold, cough, fever and respiratory infections. It accelerates the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, causing the body to excrete amino acids, potassium and magnesium, leading to cramps and muscle fatigue. Thus, most people who are mentally drained experience aches in their body, muscles, back and head. Also, in a disturbed state of mind, your body cannot absorb nutrients from the food that you eat. You will either gain weight because of the excess calories consumed or be undernourished as nutrients aren’t absorbed. A positive mental attitude can go a long way in promoting the well-being of a person.

Dietary support
Limit your coffee intake as caffeine contributes to panic attacks and nervousness.
Increase intake of raw veggies and fruits. They are rich in flavonoids and help neutralise harmful free radicals.
Physical inactivity is also a form of stress to the body. So get moving and exercise.
Avoid carbonated drinks, fried foods, refined foods made from white flour, sugar, foods containing colour, additives, processed foods as they add to the body’s toxic overload.
Chamomile and Kava Kava tea have a calming effect on the nerves and are soothing to the digestive tract. Take one or two cups at bed time.
Ashwagandha, an ayurvedic herb, works as a great nerve tonic.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre

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