Stress-busting Foods and Tips for Students in the Health Field

Stress comes in many forms, but is there such thing as a stress-buster diet? In episode 111, we cover this, plus finding the right amount of stress to be your most productive and tips for students in the health and fitness industry.

A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more serotonin, the feel-good chemical. For a steady supply of serotonin, it's best to eat complex carbs, which take longer to digest. Examples are oats, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Studies suggest that vitamin C can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. In one study of people with high blood pressure, blood pressure and cortisol, returned to normal faster when people took vitamin C before a stressful task. Vitamin C sources include strawberries, papaya, red bell peppers, potatoes and oranges to name a few. Add more green leafy veggies to your diet to boost magnesium, since too little magnesium can trigger headaches and fatigue. Drinking black tea may help you recover from stressful events more quickly. One study compared people who drank 4 cups of tea daily for 6 weeks with people who drank another beverage. The tea drinkers reported feeling calmer and had lower levels of cortisol after stressful situations. And Mindy's favorite way to kick back and reduce stress... eat beets! A study released in March from University of California, San Francisco, found that dietary nitrate, which is found in beets, and beet juice were more effective in lowering blood pressure than potassium, one of the primary nutrients of the DASH diet. How can beet juice lower blood pressure? Beets contain naturally high levels of nitrates, which your digestive system converts into nitric oxide. This compound relaxes and widens blood vessels, which, in turn, lowers blood pressure. Last, it’s purely physical, but the next time you just have to snack when you’re stressed, try crunchy raw vegetables like carrots and celery. Doing so can help release a clenched jaw, and that can ward off tension. Finding an optimal stress level can help your productivity. Essentially when you have no stress, you are lame a.k.a. lazy. As your stress level goes up slightly your performance improves. As stress level continues to grow performance will fall. This is when you feel fatigued and exhausted, beyond what a good night's sleep will help. The chart below shows how your stress level can affect your performance.

Photo credit: Thriving Under Pressure

Last, here are a few tips for any students or interns in the health and fitness field. It's summer and many students are in internships, preparing to go back to school or possibly enter the field.

  1. You don’t know everything and neither does your mentor/preceptor. We are ALL always learning.

  2. Be observant. If you see something you think you can help with, make a suggestion.

  3. Be on time, be willing to stay extra.

  4. The jobs you want to do the least are the ones you’ll likely learn the most from.

  5. Never burn bridges. You don’t know when that will come back to haunt you.

  6. Opinions in this field vary widely! You are going to learn many options to help people get healthy. Developing your clinical judgement over time will be most beneficial.

Listen to the full episode here.

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