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One of the questions you will be asked when seeing a Naturopathic Doctor is about your stress levels. Why would your doctor ask you about your stress? One of the reasons is because stress has a massive impact on health and plays a direct role in how the body functions. It doesn’t matter what the stressor is, whether it is emotional, financial, or physical – our body responds in the same way. Stress causes the release of cortisol and adrenaline from the adrenal glands resulting in the activation of our sympathetic nervous system. This is often called our fight or flight response. Our body’s stress response was designed for short term use only, think caveman being chased by a tiger. Unfortunately in our hectic, multitasking lifestyles today, we now spend most of our time in a sympathetic state instead of our natural parasympathetic “rest and digest” state. This can have a dramatic effect on how our body functions. Chronic stress can lead to hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, immune system suppression, and adrenal fatigue. One of the minerals depleted in times of stress is magnesium. This is of importance because magnesium is required in over 300 metabolic processes in the body such as nutrient metabolism, energy production, neurotransmitter production, energy storage, and cell growth. Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, intestinal problems, lightheadedness, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, and memory loss. While we can’t avoid stress, there are ways to help support the body and ensure that we are able to cope with all the demands of life. One such way is to ensure sufficient magnesium intake, which can be from diet or supplementation. Foods high in magnesium include: dark leafy greens (raw spinach, kale), nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, brazil nuts, tahini, sunflower seeds), fish, beans, lentils, brown rice, avocadoes, bananas, figs, cocoa powder, etc. If you find you are not getting enough through the diet, book in to speak with your Naturopathic Doctor about supplementation as well as other ways to support your adrenal glands.

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