Ongoing stress and fatigue combined with a poor diet, quickly leads to nutritional deficiencies. This in turn negatively affects mood, sleep patterns and immune function.
Firstly we suggest that one obtain a good high potency, gender specific multiple vitamin and mineral pill (or vitamin packet if you are willing to take more pills, and want broader coverage.) This will offer all the B-vitamins, some vitamin C, some vitamin E, enough zinc for men, enough iron for women ( iron is now avoided by men and post-menopausal women, due to its’ link to heart disease.) A good one-a-day, with a meal will provide significant protection against illness and the side effects of stress. Anyone with impaired immune function, or who is a smoker, should take extra vitamin C and vitamin E, for their immune and heart protective qualities.
Next to consider is protein. If we have inadequate protein in the diet, if we skip protein at breakfast, if we do vigorous exercise or work without almost immediately ingesting protein, we begin muscular wasting. Adequate protein protects our muscle mass (which in turn helps burn fat,) supports immune function, mental health, and the health of hair, skin and connective tissue, among other things.
A protein shake in the morning or as a meal replacement can offer immediate sustenance to the body. Whey protein will enhance immune function, soy protein can lower cholesterol and help with menopausal symptoms. The addition of a tablespoon of flax oil to a protein shake offers the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. Good fats are not fattening, quite the contrary: they encourage the body to use fat deposits as fuel. Aside from the health benefits of Omega 3’s, the oil slows the transit time of the protein. Basically this makes the shake stick around longer, so that one will feel satisfied for a few hours.
No time for a shake? A protein bar, unlike a regular candy bar, can have as much protein as 2 or 3 eggs. While it may have as many refined carbs as a candy bar, the protein slows the insulin spike the sugars will cause, preventing the ensuing “crash” that follows ingestion of sugars. As well, the bar now comes closer to counting as food, due to the benefits of protein. These types of bars should be taken with 8oz of liquid (water, juice, coffee, etc.,) for optimal digestion (and to avoid constipation.) Protein bars are also available with low carb levels, for those watching their weight, or with a tendency toward hypoglycemia. These of course will be artificially sweetened, and more than 3 servings of artificial sweeteners in a day will often cause a laxative effect.
So, just because we are always on the go doesn’t mean we can’t take some positive steps to protect our health and well-being. Fortunately, the marketplace is rising to meet these needs. Try dropping into a natural foods store or a gym to source out protein bars and shakes, as well as other healthy, portable snacks.