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Road rage linked to bad eating

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A Johannesburg man, believed to be a pilot, shot dead a motorist in a road rageattack this week, which has sparked concern. The accused shot the motorist point blank due to him being accused of jumping a traffic light at a stop street. What raises more concern is that the man who shot the motorist had his two school children in his car with him at the time of the incident.

Contributing factors to rage is not only what provokes us, but what we eat to. Giulia Criscuolo, a pharmacist who specializes in complementary health, says that there is a definite link between what we eat and how we feel.

“Many of us have come across these words, “you are what you eat”. If you have been feeling particularly irritable and angry of late, feeling like the lid of your inner pressure cooker might fly off at any minute, due to the stress and anger and frustration you feel inside, perhaps it may be a good idea to take a look at what you have been putting into your mouth,” Criscuolo said.

“Sometimes you may be one of those people that get very irritable when you’ve had too many carbohydrates. Trans fatty acids, found mainly in all processed and junk foods, have been significantly associated with greater aggression,” she adds.

A balanced diet not just forms part of a healthy lifestyle but a healthy mind to.

“Trans-fats interfere with omega three metabolisms and apparently, the brain’s neurons need these essential fatty acids to keep us bright and happy. Lack of omega three has already been linked with depression and antisocial behavior, and according to some experts, it seems many of us have woefully omega-three deficient diets,” Criscuolo states.

Criscuolo says that deficiencies in essential amino acids, magnesium or manganese, vitamin C, omega 3 oils and B vitamins may make a person hyperactive towards a stressor, a short fuse so to speak. Deficiencies in these nutrients have been correlated strongly with either increases in aggressive behavior and, or violent acts.

She adds that low blood sugar levels also can also contribute to aggression and irritability, low mood and irrational, impulsive behaviour. A drop in blood sugar often follows shortly after a spike in blood sugar levels from eating sweets, chocolates, biscuits and drinking a can of coca cola . So beware of going for high sugar foods and drinks when your blood sugar drops – rather go for more wholesome foods. She discusses the details below.

• Caffeine can have negative effects on the body if taken in high quantities. Try to wean yourself off caffeine by substituting coffee or tea with decaffeinated versions, herbal tea, or green tea (which is also full of antioxidants. Substitute sugary and caffeinated soft drinks with sparkling water or (preferably diluted) fruit juice and you will reduce your caffeine and sugar intake. Since caffeine can stay in your body for six hours or more, avoid all caffeinated drinks after lunchtime and you will sleep better. Getting adequate sleep is an important factor in reducing stress levels.

• You should aim to reduce your intake of alcohol, sugar and salt. Consumption of these items are all known to strip the body of essential nutrients and undo the work of a healthier diet. Stop smoking! Although reaching for a cigarette may feel like instant stress relief it actually causes greater stress over time.
• By watching our diet, increasing our intake of stress-busting nutrients and limiting our intake of stress-inducing substances we can feel better about ourselves and our well-being, as well as give our bodies the chance to cope with, and recover from, stressful situations.
• On stressful days, eat little and often. This will keep your metabolism ticking over all day and you will minimise peaks and troughs in energy levels. Eat breakfast, even though you may not feel hungry or believe you do not have enough time. Eating breakfast helps to kick start your metabolism for the day and also helps to stabilise your blood sugar level which will in turn reduce stress.

• Make sure you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day and focus on foods containing Vitamins B and C, and Magnesium.

• The following foods are a great source of stress-busting nutrients: oily fish (fresh tuna, mackerel, herring), leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds and also free range meat and dairy products.

• Magnesium – Can help to relax muscles and reduce anxiety. Increase your magnesium intake by eating nuts, especially Brazil nuts, but also hazelnuts and peanuts. Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, especially oats, brown rice and beans are also good sources of magnesium. You can also take a relaxing bath with a good handful of Epsom salts (available at your pharmacist) as these contain magnesium that can be absorbed through your skin.

Ultimately, all dieticians agree that we need to ensure we eat well in order to function properly through the day. VOC (Najma Bibi-Noor Mahomed)

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