267 – Managing Stress with Nutrition – My Interview with Neil E. Levin

Stress takes a toll on health – nutrients can help.

Mood & Stress Support

CLICK on image for more interviews on mood and stress.

What is stress? It seems like a simple question on the face of it, but when we look deeper, we begin to see that stress is highly complex. Stress is a highly subjective experience that defies definition. We know when we feel stressful, we know there are stressful events in our lives, but what is stress?

“Stress” in the modern sense was coined by Hans Selye in 1936. Selye defined stress as “a non-specific response in the body to any demand for change”. Selye discovered that animals’ subjected to difficult stimuli exhibited similar pathologic changes in the stomach, lymph tissue and adrenals. He further demonstrated that persistent stress could cause animals to develop sometimes serious health issues.

Stress was generally considered as being synonymous with distress and dictionaries defined it as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” or “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” Thus, stress was put in a negative light and its positive effects ignored. However, stress can be helpful and good when it motivates people to accomplish more.

Stress ManSelye went further to distinguish between stress as a response in the body from “stressors” which are the forces that create stress in our bodies. This suggests that we may be able to reduce our exposure to stressors in our lives. We don’t always have much control over the stressors that surround us. We can’t easily leave a bad situation.

What we do have control over are the personal things that we each can do to reduce our stress response. By taking control over the time we have we can change our lifestyle and environment to reduce stressors and increase positive activities that help the body deal with stress.

There are many strategies for managing your stress and you should consider the lifestyles changes that can make a difference. Examine your life and determine what your stressors are. Then consider what can be changed. There is always something you can do. Exercise, meditation, deep breathing, diet, reduce the digital impact on your day (cut down on phone and TV time), take nutritional supplements and so on.

In this interview with Neil Levin, we will discuss the impact that stress has on our systems and we will explore some of the nutrients that benefit those systems. There is the idea that stress will make your health challenges harder to manage. It is also important to understand your own particular challenges. For example, do you have sleep issues, mood issues, minor pain and so on? You always want to look for the best ways to nourish your body for your very specific health issues.

When considering nutrients for typical everyday stress look for the ones that support the structure and function of the systems involved. Experiment with high quality supplements to discover what works best in your system.

Sleep and mood support
Getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining a healthy mood can have a profound impact on your overall health and well-being. The benefits of sleep duration and quality are well-documented, as are the benefits of maintaining a healthy mood. Both help to support overall mental health, which is essential for a good quality of life.

Nutrients that support the health of the nervous system and brain are a great way to help maintain overall mental health, including a healthy mood and normal sleep patterns.

Potential nutrients for stress, mood, sleep and nervous system support:

  • Vitamins: B vitamins
  • Minerals: Calcium, magnesium
  • Amino Acids: Tryptophan, 5-HTP, GABA, L-theanine, SAMe
  • Herbs: Holy Basil, Valerian, Hops, Relora®

There are some of the most well-known supplements. There are others. It is fine to experiment to discover which products work best for you. Remember, drugs are not nutrients and nutrients are not drugs. Don’t confuse the two. If you are taking medications or are under a doctor’s care, please work with your health care provider. Also be sure to look for high quality products, as that is necessary to achieve the benefits. Poor quality products can never deliver the benefits and you are likely wasting your money.

Stress Level Self-Assessment
Stress comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, differs for each of us, we all respond to stress in diverse ways, acute and chronic stress have different effects, and the separation between them is often blurred. These and demographic influences make it difficult for scientists to agree on a definition of stress, much less measure it. There are hundreds of stress questionnaires, ranging from the Social Readjustment Rating Scale for periodic major life change events published by Holmes and Rahe over 40 years ago (with numerous revisions since then), to the Daily Hassles Scale that lists minor annoyances like fights with customers and family or being stuck in traffic that can occur several times a day. Others, like the Perceived Stress Scale and Profile of Mood States, assess the effects of stress, or are designed specifically for job stress, women, children, teenagers, the elderly, Type A behavior, depression, anger, anxiety etc.
You can find these assessments at American Institute of Stress.

Stress Management Using Self-Help Techniques for Dealing with Stress
It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress.The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.

In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of managing stress. Stress management is all about taking charge: of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful your life seems, there are steps you can take to relieve the pressure and regain control. Learn more at Harvard Health Publishing.

NOW Foods produces nutritional formulas for mood and stress, as well as many of the individual nutrients such as those mentioned above. You can learn more about these products at NOWFoods.com.

NOW Foods has received many awards for its products. It you want to know something about a company consider how it is recognized by others. These awards are impressive and I suggest you review them. Here is a sample. There are many more.


About Neil Levin, CCN, DANLA
Neil E. Levin, is the Senior Nutrition Education Manager and a product formulator for NOW Foods. He is a board-certified clinical nutritionist with a diplomat in advanced nutritional laboratory assessment. The U.S. Natural Products Association (NPA) presented Neil its Industry Champion Award in 2008 for “people who have made notable individual contributions to the natural products industry above and beyond what is expected to achieve commercial success. “Neil’s interviews and articles are published in magazines and newspapers. He has been featured in many radio interviews and television news reports. Neil blogs at www.honestnutrition.com; is on Facebook (Honest Nutrition) and Twitter (neilelevin).


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