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The Mineral Link: Why You Might Be Stressed (and How to Fix It)

Minerals and Stress Correlation

Have you been told stress is the root cause of your symptoms? 

As a busy woman juggling myriad responsibilities, being told that stress is the root cause of GI and hormone issues can feel frustratingly simplistic. In a world where time is a precious commodity and obligations seem endless, the notion that stress alone could wreak havoc on our bodies can feel defeating. However, it’s empowering to realize that the solution isn’t necessarily complex or unattainable. By recognizing the role of minerals in bolstering our bodies’ resilience to stress, we uncover a simple yet profound avenue for reclaiming control over our well-being. It’s a realization that amidst life’s chaos, there are tangible steps we can take to nourish ourselves and cultivate resilience, ultimately navigating the demands of daily life with greater ease and vitality.

How does stress impact gut health and hormones? 

Stress is a pervasive force that can profoundly impact overall health, affecting not only our mental and emotional well-being but also our physiological functions. At the core of our body’s stress response are two interconnected systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. When we encounter stressors, whether they’re physical, emotional, or environmental, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear, triggering the well-known “fight or flight” response. 

This response is designed to mobilize resources for immediate action, diverting energy away from non-essential functions such as digestion and reproduction. In the short term, this redirection of resources serves a vital purpose, allowing us to respond swiftly to perceived threats. However, chronic stress can dysregulate this delicate balance, leading to prolonged activation of the sympathetic nervous system and suppression of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, relaxation, and digestion.

Stress and digestion

This dysregulation can have far-reaching consequences for our health. In terms of digestion, prolonged stress can disrupt the intricate balance of digestive processes, leading to symptoms such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. The suppression of the parasympathetic nervous system can impair the function of the gastrointestinal tract, compromising nutrient absorption and contributing to gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Similarly, the impact of stress on the reproductive system is profound. 

When stress takes center stage, it orchestrates a symphony of physiological responses, including the suppression of digestion. In the face of perceived threats, the body prioritizes immediate survival over long-term functions like digestion. This prioritization is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, which redirects blood flow away from the digestive organs towards the muscles, heart, and lungs, preparing the body for action. As a result, digestive processes are sidelined, gut motility slows, and the intricate dance of enzyme secretion and nutrient absorption is interrupted. This slowdown in gut motility can manifest as symptoms like bloating, discomfort, and irregular bowel movements. For some, stress-induced digestive disturbances may be transient, resolving once the stressor dissipates. However, chronic stress can perpetuate these disruptions, leading to ongoing gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or functional dyspepsia. In this way, the impact of stress on digestion underscores the intricate interplay between the mind and body, highlighting the importance of addressing both psychological and physiological factors in promoting digestive health and overall well-being.

Stress and hormones 

Chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels, particularly cortisol and reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, and even reproductive disorders.

Stress and the immune system

Moreover, the interplay between stress and the immune system further exacerbates these health challenges. Chronic stress weakens immune function, making individuals more susceptible to infections and inflammatory conditions. This, in turn, can perpetuate a cycle of stress and illness, further taxing the body’s resources and perpetuating a state of dysregulation.

In essence, the pervasive influence of stress on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems underscores its profound impact on overall health. By understanding the intricate mechanisms through which stress affects digestion, reproduction, and immune function, we gain insight into the importance of stress management for maintaining holistic well-being. Finding effective strategies to mitigate stress, such as mindfulness practices, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle modifications, becomes essential for restoring balance and promoting optimal health.

Our modern approach to stress management

In our modern pursuit of stress management, we often turn to an array of strategies, from meditation and exercise to indulging in well-deserved vacations. While these approaches can provide temporary relief and offer valuable coping mechanisms, the reality is that stress management is a multifaceted endeavor that extends beyond these conventional practices and a yearly vacation is not going to relieve stress on a daily basis. 

How nutrition can improve stress

Proper nutrition plays a fundamental role in enhancing our resilience to stress, providing the essential building blocks our bodies need to navigate life’s challenges with vigor and vitality. By nourishing ourselves with a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, we fortify our defenses against the detrimental effects of chronic stress. From supporting adrenal function to bolstering neurotransmitter production, the impact of nutrition on stress resilience is profound and far-reaching. Therefore, in our quest for holistic well-being, let us not overlook the transformative power of proper nutrition as an indispensable tool for managing stress and cultivating resilience in the face of life’s demands.

How stress depletes minerals 

Stress exacts a heavy toll on our mineral reserves, leading to the depletion of vital nutrients such as potassium and magnesium due to heightened metabolic demands and increased excretion. Potassium, crucial for nerve transmission, muscle function, and fluid balance, is particularly susceptible to stress-induced depletion. Alarmingly, a significant portion of Americans fall short of meeting their daily potassium requirements, compounding the impact of stress. This deficiency sets the stage for a cascade of adverse effects on stress resilience and overall health. 

In addition to potassium, magnesium—a mineral essential for hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body—also suffers depletion under stress. This duo of deficiencies disrupts hormonal balance, impairing the regulation of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Furthermore, compromised levels of these minerals weaken immune function, heightening susceptibility to infections and inflammatory conditions, further diminishing our resilience to stressors. Thus, the consequences of mineral deficiency extend beyond nutritional inadequacy, exacerbating the detrimental effects of stress and hindering our ability to cope with life’s demands. When we run HTMA testing on our clients, it is very common that we see low potassium and magnesium (no wonder these women are stressed even though they feel like they are doing allll the things!

A well balanced approach to stress management

Regardless of the stress management practices one employs, the reality remains: if the body is depleted of essential minerals, the experience of stress persists. Even with dedicated efforts such as meditation, exercise, or taking vacations, the foundation of stress resilience lies in the body’s biochemical balance, which heavily relies on an adequate supply of minerals. When deficiencies in key minerals like potassium and magnesium exist, the body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, maintain neurotransmitter balance, and support overall physiological function becomes compromised. Consequently, regardless of how diligently one pursues stress management techniques, the underlying mineral depletion continues to exert its toll, perpetuating feelings of stress and diminishing resilience. Therefore, prioritizing mineral nourishment alongside stress management practices is essential for restoring equilibrium and fostering true resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Using mineral support for stress management

To address mineral depletion and bolster stress resilience, prioritizing a balanced diet abundant in whole foods rich in key minerals is paramount. Potassium-rich foods such as bananas, spinach, potatoes, and avocados can help replenish depleted levels, while magnesium sources like nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens offer essential support. Emphasizing a diverse array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats ensures a comprehensive intake of essential minerals. 

Should you supplement? 

However, for individuals with limited access to mineral-rich foods or heightened stress levels, supplementation may be a beneficial adjunct. High-quality supplements containing potassium, magnesium, and other vital minerals can help bridge nutritional gaps and support the body’s stress response mechanisms. 

Putting this into practice

Balancing relaxation techniques like meditation with nourishing the body through mineral-rich foods is key to comprehensive stress management. By adopting a holistic approach that addresses stress from multiple angles, individuals can cultivate resilience and well-being over the long term.

Practical Meal and Snack Ideas:

  • Breakfast: Start the day with a potassium-rich smoothie made with spinach, banana, and almond milk. Pair it with a side of Greek yogurt topped with sliced strawberries and almonds for an extra magnesium boost.
  • Lunch: Enjoy a nourishing salad featuring leafy greens, grilled chicken or tofu, avocado slices (for potassium), and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds (for magnesium). Dress with a homemade vinaigrette made with olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Dinner: Prepare a balanced plate with baked salmon (a good source of both potassium and magnesium), roasted sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Season with herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric, and parsley for added flavor and health benefits.
  • Snacks: For a midday pick-me-up, munch on carrot sticks with hummus (a source of magnesium from chickpeas), or enjoy a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruits. Dark chocolate squares are also a satisfying snack that provides both magnesium and a hint of sweetness.

In times of stress, potassium broth is a great addition

Potassium broth

​​The exact amount of potassium in homemade potassium broth can vary depending on factors such as the size and type of vegetables used, as well as the specific quantities of each ingredient. However, as a rough estimate, one serving (about 1 cup) of homemade potassium broth may contain approximately 300-500 milligrams of potassium, based on the potassium content of common ingredients like potatoes, carrots, and celery.


  • 2 large potatoes, washed and chopped into chunks (keep the skins on for added nutrients)
  • 2 large carrots, washed and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups of water
  • Salt, to taste (optional)


  1. In a large pot, combine the chopped potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
  2. Pour in the water, ensuring that the vegetables are submerged.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the broth simmer uncovered for about 1 to 1.5 hours, allowing the flavors to meld and the vegetables to soften.
  5. After simmering, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  6. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a clean container, discarding the solids.
  7. Season the broth with salt to taste, if desired.
  8. Allow the broth to cool completely before storing it in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.

Enjoy your homemade potassium-rich broth as a comforting drink on its own or use it as a base for soups, stews, or sauces. It’s a nourishing way to boost your mineral intake and support your body’s stress resilience.


In conclusion, the role of minerals in stress resilience cannot be overstated. From potassium and magnesium to zinc and selenium, these essential nutrients form the backbone of our body’s ability to cope with life’s challenges. While relaxation techniques like meditation offer valuable tools for managing stress, they alone may not suffice without addressing underlying nutritional imbalances. By prioritizing nourishment as a foundational pillar of stress-reduction strategies, we empower ourselves to fortify our bodies from within, enhancing resilience and well-being in the face of adversity.

For further guidance on optimizing mineral intake and supplement recommendations tailored to individual needs, I invite you to download our free mineral guide.


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Hi, I’m Dr. Heather

Registered dietitian and helps people struggling with bloating, constipation, and IBS find relief from their symptoms and feel excited about food again.

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