Ways to beat stress and fatigue (Part 1)

(I originally wrote this article on my Facebook wall on March 18, 2014. I’m reposting it here on WordPress July 21, 2014)

As the school term is nearing the end and exams looming, and a bunch of group projects and assignments are coming due, I can see the stress and fatigue on a lot of students’ faces. 

While most people will say the stress and fatigue is due to exams, group projects and assignments — which is probably the most socially acceptable thing to say — in this post I want to suggest other causes and factors that may be contributors. Lately I’ve been very interested in nutrition and health and have done lots of research. Here are some of my preliminary findings. Of course, this post is oversimplified and there are many other factors that lead to stress and fatigue. Feel free to use this post as a discussion and post comments to help each other out during exam time! This is more of an awareness post so people can be aware of needed possible changes for the better in their lifestyle 

Reason #1: Lack of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin D, and iron. 

Having recently been to a health seminar at Schulich, the expert suggested fatigue may be caused by a lack of magnesium. This caused me to do research in other essential nutrients deficiency such as vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency. It actually made me look at the food labels more carefully. Any or all of these deficiencies may cause stress and fatigue. 

One problem I’ve noticed is, when students get busy, they stop making home-cooked meals and eat out more. While eating out is convenient, it uses a lot of refined processed foods that strip the food of most of its nutrients. 

Reason #2: Refined foods

This past year living alone on campus I’ve had to make many grocery shopping choices and I’ve changed many items on my grocery list as I did more research on food nutrients. 

For example, I learned the difference between whole grain, whole wheat, and white breads. I was buying white bread at the beginning of term thinking it’s healthy, but after learning it’s not very nutritious, I’ve switched to whole grains. Same with white rice which I’ve switched to brown rice. Sure, they don’t taste as good, but after learning how white bread/rice causes rapid rise in blood sugar and then rapid decrease and its inability to keep me full compared to their brown bread/rice cousins, I decided to go back to the more natural, nutritious forms of these foods. 

People in the 21st Century are more stressed and rushed than our ancestors. While technology is a big factor and the speed in the world we live in is faster than ever, I believe our food choices plays a big part in our overall energy levels and stress. Without proper nutrient, the body can’t function at its peak. 

I have lots more to say about food nutrients, but I’ll save that for a future post so this post doesn’t get too long 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss factors such as:
1. The importance of exercise in releasing stress and increasing energy levels, effects of serotonin and endorphins
2. Unplugging from technology may help reduce stress
3. Canada’s Food Guide to essential nutrients recommendations
4. Stretches to alleviate back pain and shoulder tension
5. No time to cook? Freezing vegetables to preserve nutrients and prolong shelf life of healthy foods through the blanching vegetables technique

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