Self Care Series – Nutrition for stressful situations
I think we all agree that during a Child’s meltdown, both the child and the adults around them are experiencing an increase in stress. Eating healthy food, getting enough sleep and exercise will all help both you and your child deal with stressful situations better. Right now I would like to take a closer look at the food and nutrition that can help you and your child navigate these stressful situations more effectively.
Changes have been seen when simultaneously changing diet, supplementing nutrients and balancing the gut microbiota.
Where to start?
Cut out as much processed foods as possible with the artificial color, flavor, additives, and flow agents. Next cut out the sugar in all forms but in whole fruit that has the fiber and nutrients to go with it. After that look for sensitivities, gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, grains, and potatoes are the common ones. You can see a naturopath and have the test done or you can do the “no fun diet” for three months. Which means cutting all of the stuff one normally eats and then feeding the food back in food one at a time and see what your body does. I don’t recommend the no fun diet for your children as I am guessing it won’t go over well.
Making sure your son or daughter has these key nutrients will also help control the melt downs. I have done some research and this are the nutrients that came up over and over again.
Magnesium enables the electrical activity in the brain and calms the central nervous system, in turn, increases attention and calms your child.
Zinc enables neurotransmitters to function and is necessary for the metabolism of DHA fat in the brain. It also regulates melatonin, sleep, and mood.
Omega three is essential to DHA to support your child’s growing brain. In fact, boys need 3x as much as girls do. Studies show that increases in omega three results in better performance in spelling, reading, and fewer behavioral issues.
Vitamin D enables every cell to function and plays a key role in attention and brain function, meaning better moods and improved sleep.
Vitamin B is essential for serotonin which regulates mood and behavior. Research has shown decreases in Vitamin B are more likely to struggle with learning and have more behavioral problems.
Iron plays a large role in attention, mood and energy level. A long term deficit of iron leads to problems with attention and mood swings.
Protein is the building blocks for your child’s brain and body so ensure enough protein is vital to a child’s development. It keeps kids motivated, energized and supports good behavior, attention, and social function.
Super foods such as quinoa, spinach, kale, eggs and wild salmon are great ways to get many of the key nutrients into your child’s body.
Another factor is gut flora which play a huge role in your ability and that of your child to handle stress. Basically the more diverse your child’s gut flora is the more like they are to be resilient, more stable mood, and be more persistent. How do you expand your child’s flora? Good question, my understanding is by ensuring they are eating a variety of whole foods. I am not an expert in this field but here are a couple of great books on the topic.
Adding adaptogens to your diet and your diet and your child’s diet is another way to help both of you deal with stressful situations better. Again I am not an expert in this area but this is what I found in my research.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a class of healing plants that help balance, restore and protect the body; they do this by helping control cortisol levels (aka the stress hormone). I know from experience that too much cortisol does horrible things to your body. Examples include weight gain, irritability, feeling of constant stress ( fight or flight 24/7), bone loss, increased blood pressure, insomnia, increase chances of developing diabetes and heart disease, water retention, thinning skin, anxiety, and really low energy levels.
Adaptogens react to any stress or influence and bring your physiological functions back to normal.
Some Adaptogen herbs include :
Ashwagandha (aka Indian ginseng) has a number of benefits including:
Regulating immune system
- Eases anxiety
- Lowers cortisol levels
- Balances hormones
- Helps with hyper and hypo thyroid issues
- Increases focus, mood, stamina, and endurance
- By increasing brain function it decreases bodily pain
Ginseng ( aka Asian ginseng) benefits include:
- Improving mental performance
- Increased ability to handle stress
- Anti depressant effects
- Lowers blood pressure and sugar levels
Holy basil has been described as the elixir of anti-aging and its benefits include:
- Fighting fatigue and stress
- Boosts immune system
- Regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone levels
Rhodiola acts like a buffer to stress related mental and physical fatigue. It also:
- Relieves anxiety
- Combats aging, by protecting the heart and liver, by increasing memory and oxygen level
- Protects against oxidative stress, heart stress, radiation and toxin exposure
- Suppresses cortisol production and increases stress resistant proteins, which can normalize sleep and eating patterns after stress
- Lastly, it is effective in helping with weight loss
Licorice root has the ability to increase energy and endurance. Some other effects include:
- Boosting the immune system
- protecting the thymus which is a key organ in our immune system from being damaged by cortisol
- Use with caution it may affect blood pressure
Okay, this is great knowledge but the next battle is how to get your child to consume these great nutrients. If you go to the Health food store then you most likely will drop a couple hundred dollars on pills that your child won’t take. In my travels I have come across a couple of amazing products Xtra and Essentials (this one often is used as a multi vitamin so rather then the whole dose just giving the kids a couple of ounces a day) that are in liquid form that taste great on their own but also can hide easily in your child’s favorite juice that contain many of these ingredients listed. I also highly recommend Anti stress for adults along with Govera. Your kids may even like Govera it tastes like an orange drink.
Check out my blog for additional information and tips that will help your family. I also invite you to take the free health assessments both you and your child on our website or feel free to contact me directly through my website to set up a consultation.