Smorgasbord Health Column – Women’s Health – The Heart and Stress – Foods and nutrients needed to support you – by Sally Cronin

Last week I looked at the impact on the heart of acute and chronic stress, and some strategies to combat the effects including a link to my breathing exercises.:Heart Attacks, Strokes and Stress

This week I am looking at how including certain nutrients in your diet can support the body and the brain during stressful events.

A healthy diet is absolutely necessary whatever lifestyle we have but if we are under excessive levels of stress then it becomes critical.

Make sure that you are hydrated. Dehydration is a leading physical cause of stress and you need at least 2 litres of fresh, pure water per day and more if you are on holiday or living in very hot climates. I recently posted about dehydration as a cause for food cravings and you can check that out HERE

Seven good reasons to drink water

  • Your body consists of between 60% and 75% water.
  • Each day our body loses 2 litres of fluid through urination,
    Breathing and through our skin.
  • We require even more fluids in warm climates or if we have a higher activity level.
  • Not drinking enough fluids puts a great deal of stress on the body. Kidney function particularly will be affected and there is a danger of kidney and gallstones forming. Immune function is impaired leaving us more prone to infection.
  • Lack of water causes a number of problems that we tend to shrug off. Headaches, irritability (especially first thing in the morning and in children) aching legs, water retention, poor skin tone, circles under the eyes, dull and lifeless hair, lack of energy and poor emulsification of fats.
  • Drinking water helps prevent water retention. Your body knows that it will die very rapidly without fluids so it tends to keep as much as it can in reserve.
  • If you are taking regular medication basis you need to make sure that you flush your system daily to ensure that there is no build- up of toxins in your cells, kidneys and liver.

There are some vitamins and minerals which the body needs to handle stress especially as during a stress interval the body will use up additional reserves of many nutrients. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are necessary and here are a few of the particular nutrients that will help you handle the stress in your life.

Vitamin A mops up the toxic residue of elevated stress hormone levels. (Liver, fish oils, butter, cheese, Free range eggs, oily fish and Beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin A from carrots, green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli, orange and red coloured vegetables such as apricots)

Vitamin B1 improves your mood and is vital for nerve function. (Whole grains, seeds, peas, beans and nuts.)

Vitamin B3 helps you regulate your sleep patterns. (Liver, brewer’s yeast, chicken, turkey, fish, meat, peanuts, whole-grains, eggs and milk.)

Vitamin B5, better known as Pantothenic Acid, controls the action of the adrenal glands, which play a vital part in the stress response. (Liver, yeast, salmon, dairy, eggs, grains, meat and vegetables.)

Vitamin B6 is essential for the manufacture of the brain chemical serotonin, which is also called the feel good chemical. (Potatoes, bananas, cereals, lentils, liver, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, avocados, soybeans, walnuts and oats.)

Vitamin B12 is necessary to help produce brain chemicals such as serotonin (dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish, for vegetarians in Miso and Tempeh both fermented soybean products)

Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that is used up very quickly during a stress reaction and needs to be replaced immediately as a deficiency leads to increased levels of anxiety and irritability. Smokers should take in Vitamin C in their diet and under the supervision of a professional should also take supplemental Vitamin C. (found in all fruit and vegetables but best sources are blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, parsley, peppers, rosehips, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.)

Minerals necessary to help the body manage stress

Calcium helps you relax and studies have certainly shown that for women it can help reduce the symptoms of stress related to their periods. (Dairy, sardines, canned salmon with the bones, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and soy products such as tofu.)

Magnesium works with calcium and also helps to reduce stress. (Whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish)

Chromium stabilises blood sugar levels that create stress. (Brewer’s yeast, onions, whole grains, shellfish, liver and molasses)

The aim of a healthy diet is to provide your body with the necessary fuel in the right proportions to enable it to achieve homeostasis, or balance. If you are living a very stressful lifestyle then you need to ensure that you address that balance as quickly as possible. If you suffer from low to moderate levels of stress you will find that by adopting relaxation techniques and giving your body the correct fuel to deal with the situation will have long lasting and very beneficial effects on you now and also years ahead in the future.

Don’t allow your stress levels today creep up on you unawares in 20 years time, deal with it today.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews


Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.


38 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Women’s Health – The Heart and Stress – Foods and nutrients needed to support you – by Sally Cronin

  1. This is a great, easy-to-read (and follow) list. I love that certain foods fall into multiple categories, making it easier to get all the nutrients you need without having to pile up the plate. Lol! Thanks for sharing this information, Sally! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree with you, Sally, that the more natural nutrients we can get from our food the better. I cringe when someone tells me they don’t like water. Really? What’s not to like? 🙂 Thank you for sharing your expertise!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love all the food you included here except the onion, Sally. My stomach could tell even if I can’t see it mixed in the food. We haven’t had processed food for years. Great point about water retention when we don’t drink enough. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another important, easy to read and understand post from you, Sally…Water is our number one drink here apart from wine on occasions… it is the only drink on our table at mealtimes and the only beverage apart from milk/coconut water I keep in my fridge…Pressed for later Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

      • Delighted to share, Sally…Lovely, you can’t beat fresh coconut meat in a curry…I am making a Beef Curry as we speak which is unusual for me its been a few years since I made a beef curry but I thought they deserved a change as we rarely eat beef and this beef is a Thai/French beef which is really nice bred here so we know where the meat is raised Hugs xx


      • Sounds delicious Carol.. I use Irish ribeye steaks for our beef curry… I have decided that since we have not eaten out for the last 18 months.. the least we can do is use really good meat for meals and there is just the right fat in the ribeye..and I pan fry and add in to the slow cooked sauce at the end.. xxx


  5. Thank you, Sally, for these reminders and helpful advice. I spent the afternoon in the sun, shoveling rocks. Not a fun task. I soon realized that I was dehydrated…then I read your post. Perfect timing. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Women’s Health – The Heart and Stress – Foods and nutrients needed to support you – by Sally Cronin | Retired? No one told me!

  7. As a vegetarian, it was good to see that eggs, dairy and soybean are so beneficial. An elderly friend of the family started to show signs of confusion and the doctor realised that she was very dehydrated. It was incredible to see the difference that a sensible intake of water made. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Round Up – 17th – 23rd October 2021 – Pink Floyd, Movies, Short Stories, Books, Reviews, Anti-Aging, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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