Effect of Nutrition on Stress Management
Persistent mild to moderate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation associated with depressive illness is a well-documented phenomenon. Clinical studies have shown that during periods of depression this results in persistent hypercortisolism of varying degrees that is sufficiently chronic to induce adaptive changes in the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal axis function. Animal studies suggest that chronic stress causes high basal cortisol and low cortisol response to acute stressors and that such changes may contribute to disease states. Components of the diet such as protein and carbohydrate, even when the intakes of fat and energy remain unchanged, can produce consistent changes in concentrations of cortisol and its binding globulin, CBG. Further, the fat content of the diet plays a critical role in CBG and cortisol concentration. Also, addition of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated free fatty acids to purified human CBG enhances CBG binding activity in a concentration-dependent fashion. Other important factors are micronutrients, e.g., vitamins and phytochemicals. Studies indicate that persons who eat green or yellow vegetables every day show a lower incidence of stress
syndrome (irritation, sleeplessness) than those who do not eat them regularly. Also, dietary modification may reduce stress susceptibility and improve the stress management.