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Food and stress management: Combating stress with a balanced nutritional diet



Stress is an entangled phenomenon and each person has their own stress endurance level. Exposure to stressors outcomes in a sequence of embedded responses (stress responses)consisting of sequence of reactions in the body system such as behavioral modifications and various hormonal secretions. There is a strong relationship between stress and eating behavior of individual. Serotonin is known as a happy hormone, although cortisol is named as a stress hormone that influences the function and feelings of our body.Long term stress will trigger different illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. There are several ways to deal with stress and one intelligent alternative is to eat stress fighting balanced nutritional diet and reducing stress through food. A well balanced diet with correct nutrients has powerful stress reducing benefits that improve functioning of brain, intensify immune function, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and cut back toxins from the body.These nutrients in food (complex carbohydrates, proteins, tryptophan, vitamin C, vitamin B and minerals) play an important role in managing stress.Food and nutrition affects our interactions with family, friends, community and environment. We need to decide about what and how we eat that affect not solely our health and welfare, but the health of those around us and of our planet. So, build the proper changes, read the labels, concentrate on how you feel after eating, drink plenty of water, add more fruit and vegetables to your diet, plan your meals by the day or may be the week. Nutrition/food education is an essential part of improving dietary habits, food choices and plays an excellent role in stress reduction and management.
Food and stress management: Combating stress with a balanced nutritional diet
Chetna Sharma*, Devina Vaidya, N.S. Thakur, Anil Gupta and Kanchan Bhatt
Department of Food Science and Technology
Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, Solan, HP
173230, India
*Corresponding author email:
The human body is made up of complex network of vessels, capillaries and other
necessary component structures that interact and communicate with the brain, to
ensure normal functioning of the body. One of the important components of the
body are hormones, which are produced in glands situated in various areas of your
body. Humoral stimuli are changes in blood levels of non-hormone chemicals,
such as nutrients or ions, which cause the release or inhibition of a hormone to, in
turn, maintain homeostasis. Mood naturally fluctuates and everyone experiences
highs and lows in lives but in some cases changes in mood becomes long lasting.
Stress may be understood as a state of tension experienced by individuals facing
extraordinary demands, constraints or opportunities.
What happens to one’s body system when one is in stress?
Hypothalamus signals the sympathetic nervous system and the pituitary
The SNS stimulates the adrenal glands, which release corticosteroids to increase
metabolism which provides immediate energy.
The pituitary gland releases adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)
The adrenal glands then release epinephrine and norepinephrine which prolongs
the fight-or-flight response may upset homeostasis and harm the internal organs
Threat is perceived
By knowing the food composition the nutritional content of food is known.
Nutrients are components of food needed for body in adequate amounts for
proper growth, reproduction and leading normal life.
Stress hormones will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s
response to foreign invaders.
VITAMINS : Reduce stress and boost mood;
Reduce fatigue and boost mood.
B-complex vitamin supplements are not a cure for mental health issues, they may
help improve symptoms of depression or anxiety.
MINERALS : Potassium is important for the nervous system. The nervous
system relays messages between your brain and body.
It helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals.
Calcium is a key player in both depression relief and stress reduction, working
closely with magnesium, vitamin D, potassium and other nutrients to maximize its
lack of iodine can cause an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, known as
a goiter, and other thyroid problems. In children, it can cause mental disabilities.
MUFAs and PUFAs : monounsaturated fatty acids and
polyunsaturated fatty acids are also referred to as the
"healthy fats." These fats protect your health and your heart.
Antioxidants may work to combat neuro-inflammation caused by free radical
damage, which is thought to be a precursor to neurodegenerative diseases such as
Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.
The aromatic amino acids (tryptophan tyrosine, phenylalanine)
are the biosynthetic precursors for the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and
Cortisol is often
called the "stress
hormone" because
of its connection to
the stress response.
Cortisol is one of
the steroid hormones
and is made in the
adrenal glands.
Changed patterns of serum cortisol levels
have been observed in connection with
abnormal ACTH levels, mood
disorders such as major depressive
disorder, anxiety disorders, psychological
stress, and physiological stressors such
as hypoglycemia, illness, fever,
trauma, surgery, fear, pain, physical
exertion, or temperature extremes.
According to WHO, India has the highest suicide rate among 10 South-East Asian
countries and depression is one of the leading causes for this.
Extremely high levels of stress can affect the fetus’s brain development.
Some stress, caused by regular life challenges, is unavoidable.
Severe stress, however, is a different story.
As anyone who has suffered chronic stress knows, with the resulting mood
swings, sleeplessness, and low of self-esteem it can bring, the line between stress
and depression can start to feel a little blurred.
While everyone feels down now and then, depression is a serious issue that
involves feeling low for several weeks or longer, even for years in some cases.
The advanced stage of stress is depression OR YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS
5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT
It appears to play a key role in maintaining mood balance.
Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression.
It is believed to help regulate mood and social behaviour,
appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual function.
Low levels of serotonin have been linked with: Craving for sweet or starchy
foods, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, anxiety, aggression, poor memory,
low mood
Foods that could boost your serotonin:
The Serotonin Diet: Tryptophan rich diet as Eggs, Cheese, Tofu, Nuts and seeds
Do not exclude calories from your diet.
Diet that encourages food such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy,
lean red meat, fish, egg olive oil and maximum two sugar beverages per week.
It incorporates more healthy ingredients such as olive oil and nuts, omega-3 fatty
acids , which aids in especially improving moods.
Health is defined by WHO is the state of complete physical, mental and social
well being and not mere absence of disease or infirmity”. A healthy diet is a
solution to many of our health-care problems. We need to make decisions about
what and how we eat that foster not only our health and wellbeing, but the health of
those around us and of our planet and environment. Make the right changes, read
the labels, focus on how you feel after eating, drink plenty of water, add more fruit
and vegetables to your diet, plan your meals by the week or even the month.
Nutrition/food education is an essential component of improving dietary habits and
food choices. Eating well is the form of self respect, so don’t forget to eat right.
Firk C and Markus CR. 2007. Serotonin by stress interaction: a susceptibility factor for the development of depression.
Journal of Psychopharmacology 21:538-44.
Singh K. 2016. Nutrient and stress management. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences 2: 155-9600.
Thakur M, Pandey A and Jain SC. 2012. Good mood foods: A panacea of life. Indian Food Industry 31: 45-52.
ABSTRAK Penyakit kronis yang telah diderita selama bertahun-tahun dapat mengganggu pada semua aspek kehidupan penderitanya seperti masalah finansial, Karir, gangguan peran, termasuk masalah psikososial, akibatnya, penderita penyakit kronis seringkali juga mengalami stress kronis yang selanjutnya dapat memperburuk penyakit dan menurunkan kualitas hidup penderitanya. Di Desa Warisa didapatkan jumlah penderita penyakit kronis sebanyak 83 Orang hanya dari 3 jaga (lingkungan). Tujuan Pengabdian Kepada Masyarakat ini adalah untuk meningkatkan pengetahuan dan kemampuan penderita penyakit kronis di Desa Warisa terkait manajemen stress melalui kegiatan pelatihan. Kegiatan ini dilakukan dengan memberikan penyuluhan terkait manajamen stress yang baik dilanjutkan dengan pelatihan manajemen stress dengan relaksasi napas dalam dan relaksasi otot progresif. Kegiatan ini diikuti oleh 29 peserta termasuk 2 kader dan dari hasil evaluasi didapatkan peningkatan pengetahuan peserta sebesar 22.4% yaitu sebelum penyuluhan (63%) dan setelah penyuluhan (85.4%). Dari hasil observasi juga didapatkan sebagian besar peserta mampu melakukan kembali gerakan latihan relaksasi otot progresif secara mandiri namun, ada 5 Peserta yang belum mampu melakukan gerakan latihan secara mandiri yang kemudian diberikan pendampingan lanjutan. Hasil dari kegiatan ini diharapkan dapat menjadi dasar pembentukan program kesehatan jiwa di puskesmas khususnya terkait pelayanan psikososial bagi penderita penyakit kronis. Kata Kunci: Manajemen stress, Penyakit kronis, Relaksasi otot progresif ABSTRACT Chronic illness that has been suffered for years can interfere with all aspects of people with chronic illness such as financial problems, career, role performance, and psychosocial aspects. as a result, People who suffer from chronic diseases often experience chronic stress that worsens disease severity and reduces the quality of life. In Warisa Village, there were 83 people who were identified with chronic diseases from only 3 hamlets. The purpose of this Community Service was to increase the knowledge and ability of People with chronic disease in Warisa Village regarding stress management through training. This activity was carried out by delivering health education related to positive stress management followed by stress management training with deep breathing relaxation and Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This activity was attended by 29 participants including 2 Cadres and from the evaluation process, it was found that the participants' knowledge increased by 22.4% in which before counseling (63%) and after counseling (85.4%). From the observations, it was also found that most of the participants were able to perform PMR independently, however, there were 5 participants who had not been able to perform PMR independently and were then given further assistance. The results of this activity are expected to be the first step to developing mental health programs in Community Health Centers, especially related to psychosocial services for people with chronic diseases. Keywords: Stress management, Chronic illness, Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Full-text available
Stress is a complex phenomenon and each individual has his/her own level of stress tolerance. Exposure to stressors results in a series of coordinated responses often referred to as ‘stress responses’ which are composed of series of reactions in the body including alterations in behaviour, autonomic function, secretion of multiple hormones and various physiological changes in the body. There are several ways to cope up with stress and one good solution is to eat stress fighting and reducing nutrient through food. A nutritious, well balanced diet has powerful stress reducing benefits that improve brain functioning, shore up immune function, lower blood pressure, improve the circulation, and reduce toxins from the body. Some specific nutrients play a very important role in reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenalin in the body and also the stress chemicals that activate fight and flight response. They are complex carbohydrates, proteins (tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine, theanine) Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Magnesium, and Selenium. These nutrients play a very specific and important role in stress management. This review paper aims at eliciting the role of various nutrients and food items in stress reduction and management.
Serotonin by stress interaction: a susceptibility factor for the development of depression
  • Firk Markus
Firk C and Markus CR. 2007. Serotonin by stress interaction: a susceptibility factor for the development of depression. Journal of Psychopharmacology 21:538-44.
Good mood foods: A panacea of life
  • M Thakur
  • A Pandey
  • S C Jain
Thakur M, Pandey A and Jain SC. 2012. Good mood foods: A panacea of life. Indian Food Industry 31: 45-52.