The Power of Antioxidants to Relieve Stress

With physical exhaustion the muscles become over worked and tense, however, a good night sleep will leave the body refreshed and ready to begin a new day. Mental exhaustion is different. Many folks find it more difficult to relax their mind and so their brain never gets “refreshed.”

Stress caused by mental exhaustion results when the mind keeps working even when the physical body is at rest. If stress is caused by a specific limited event, like a near miss on the freeway, although a bit shaken, the mind recovers once the event is over. But, if the stress is caused by a daily anxiety or goes on long-term, then that is what’s known as negative stress. It’s very real and it can jeopardize your good health.

A failed marriage, loss of job, constant nagging by a co-worker or spouse can cause unremitting stress where the body reaches the stage of mental exhaustion. Chronic mental exhaustion leading to negative stress can be caused by a relationship or a situation that makes you miserable, money problems, living in a high crime area or dealing with any other on-going event that makes you feel financially or physically threatened.

Luckily, the body knows how to fight stress using a superficial energy that can be replaced with good nutrition, exercise and relaxation techniques.  Such stress can also be greatly relieved by the of elimination bad habits such as consuming too much caffeine or alcohol and heavy smoking.

When the body is under stress it releases anti-stress hormones that are intended to give you a boost of energy. When you are feeling anxious you may get that boost of energy, but it soon wears off, leaving you more tired than before. On a subconscious level you may feel best when stimulated even if it is caused by the stress in your life and you may be able to maintain that energy level artificially with a desire for coffee, sweets, alcohol or cigarettes. But, the body cannot continue to function on the need for chemicals or food for energy and it will begin to draw energy from the muscles.

There are natural ways to help the body more easily cope with stress. For example, you can ease the harmful effects of stress with diet. The use of certain foods, vitamins and mineral supplements may boost your body’s ability to produce its own anti-stress hormones and help your body repair the damage of long-term stress.

In addition, free radical damage can be prevented with the use of antioxidants that will enable you to adapt to stress better and allow you to enjoy a longer healthier life.

The process of oxidation in the human body damages cell membranes, lipids and cellular proteins. When oxygen is metabolized, it creates ëfree radicalsí which pull electrons from other molecules causing damage. Oxidation can be accelerated by stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sunlight, pollution and other factors. Your body can cope with some free radicals and may even need them to function properly. However, the overload of free radicals has been linked to certain diseases, including heart disease, liver disease and some forms of cancer.

Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E and the minerals copper, zinc and selenium are found in certain foods that neutralize free radicals. Other dietary food compounds are found in various plant and animal products and are believed to have greater antioxidant effects than either vitamins or minerals.

Some examples of high antioxidants foods are cherries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Other good fruit sources are pomegranate, grape, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, apricots, prunes and dates.

Good vegetable sources are: Kale, chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, ginger, red beets. Nuts such as pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, ground nut, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, ground nut and sunflower seeds are also excellent antioxidant foods. The spices cloves, cinnamon, oregano are also loaded with antioxidant properties.

“Oxidation can be accelerated by stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sunlight, pollution and other factors. (“Antioxidants”)” Antioxidants work like scavengers pulling free radicals from the body cells, to prevent stress and reduce the damage caused by oxidation.

Even if you take calculated steps to reduce your negative stress burden, you may not be able to control every external stress factor in your life, but you can mitigate your body’s negative response to stress by leading a healthier life style and minimizing the damage of oxidizing free radicals.

Reference: “Antioxidants,” Better Health Channel, Retrieved on May 24, 2010.

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