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December 16, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, December 16, 2005

A nutritionist's tips for body maintenance A nutritionist's tips for body maintenance (December 16, 2005)

By Flavia Kreis

When was the last time you sat down to rest, put your feet up, and closed your eyes for 15 minutes? You laugh! The demands of career and family on our time and energy and emotions can be all-consuming. We forget about rest and relaxation in our push to meet life's demands.

We also forget that the body is a biochemical machine and, like any machine, requires care and maintenance to run properly. Constant stress and poor fuel are enemies of the body and begin a cycle of deterioration which may go unnoticed but can eventually result in serious health problems.

The adrenal system of our body is a wondrous thing. In moments of danger it kicks everything into high gear so that we are capable of a great spurt of energy, enabling us to either fight or flee the danger. Jumping out of the way of a car is an example of this. When it occurs, stress hormones are released which tighten muscles, increase breathing and heart rate and heighten brain function. It is meant to be a temporary condition. The act of running or fighting would expend enough energy to reverse these emergency responses.

However, today's stress responses often begin at the office, or in our car, and we remain stationary rather than fighting or fleeing. A prolonged stress response, which is not dissipated in action, has detrimental effects on the body. Digestive activity is lessened and food goes right through the body, creating a continual need for more food. The immune system is suppressed and normal healing functions are impaired. Frequent use of the stress response can initiate many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, immune disorders, diabetes, muscle pain, stroke, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, fatigue and depression.

Kept perpetually in this fight-or-flight mode, the body begins to perceive everything as an enemy. It begins to fight many things it would not normally fight, such as foods and environmentally harmless substances such as pollen and grass and even vitamins and minerals.

Poor fuel is another enemy of the body. A diet high in meats and grains and low in vegetables and fruits can create an acidic condition (low pH) in which the digestive enzymes become less active. A diet high in starches leads to decreased metabolism, making weight gain probable. The allergens mentioned earlier create cravings which perpetuate the poor diet. We gain weight and can't lose it. We want to diet but can't stop our hand from reaching for that chocolate bar. Our energy level sags and we feel heavy and uncomfortable.

To restore balance and order, we have to look at the big picture and establish a correct sequence of actions. The first thing to address is the strengthening of the organs and the correction of the pH balance of the body. Until these are accomplished other treatments won't work as well. The pH can be corrected with diet, relaxation and supportive supplementation. Enzymes can strengthen the organs.

You have several options for intervening, lessening, and even preventing this destructive cycle of stress in your life. Exercise is an invaluable tool to get your body into action to burn off the extra energy initiated by stress. A diet high in vegetables and fruits, which includes protein and de-emphasizes starch and sugars, will go a long way toward creating the right pH balance for absorbing needed nutrients and increasing metabolism.

And don't forget relaxation: Take that 15-minute break, sit down, put your feet up and close your eyes. Give the body a chance to balance itself, and it will give you many more years of carefree service.
Flavia Kreis is a certified nutritional consultant and the owner of Integrative Nutrition and Wellness Center, located in downtown Mountain View. For more information, visit

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