GLUM MUMS | Stress eat your way to health


Most of us have stress in our daily lives, thanks to everyday situations with work, commuting, finances or family issues. But for pregnant women there are always a few additional stress factors (not least the prospect of labour!), and a sustained amount of stress could be unhealthy for mum and baby.

Normally our bodies are able to cope with stress as long as we have down time in between those stressful periods but we often just can't cope with a sustained level. Symptoms that your body is not coping with stress include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems, an increase in blood pressure, water retention and weight gain, and interrupted sleep.

But according to nutritionist Ian Marber, author of 'Super Eating' there are foods we can eat (and not eat) to help our bodies cope.  The high adrenaline levels that stress creates result in a situation where we run low on certain nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B5.

To help your body get back premium levels of these nutrients, Marber recommends including the following foods in your diet, as long as they are safe for you to eat during pregnancy.

Phosphorus: a major component of energy used by the body when metabolic processes speed up in times of stress
Foods: eggs and dairy, pulses, quinoa, nuts and seeds
Avoid: high intake of fruit sugars so limit amount of fruit eaten each day and cut out concentrated fruit juice

Potassium: required for metabolism of proteins and enzymes that contribute to formation of energy from glucose
Foods: avocado, tomato (all forms), dried fruit, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, cucumber, peppers, banana and dark green veg (steamed not overcooked)
Avoid: Licorice and excessive salt

Vitamin C: required for the formation of adrenaline and cortisol (stress management hormones)
Foods: peppers, potatoes, dark green leafy veg like kale, citrus fruits, cantaloupe melons, pineapples, kiwi, strawberries
Avoid: vitamin C is easily excreted with excess water so if you're drinking more than usual, increase your intake to compensate

Vitamin B5: used to make stress hormones
Foods: found in all foods but high levels found in liver and kidneys, poultry and red meat, yoghurt, avocado and lentils. Good levels in tomato paste and puree, potatoes and sunflower seeds
Avoid: freezing and processing of food depletes B5 levels in food

Magnesium: required for adrenal gland function
Foods: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, whole grains, nuts, lentils and dark green leafy veg
Avoid: carbonated drinks, low calcium intake

Essential fatty acids with vitamin E: in times of stress the immune system is lowered and inflammation is more likely. Stress also thickens the blood. Both essential fats and vitamin E can help counteract these effects
Foods: fish, nuts, avocado, seeds and seed oils
Avoid: saturated fats

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