Stress is all around us, at work, at home and on our minds. Stress affects everyone differently, however stress weakens the bodies immune system and depletes the body of essential nutrients. For some stress causes uncontrollable eating. Others go without eating altogether. Neither option is good for the body especially under stressful circumstances. Knowing the best stress reducing foods can help to relax the body and combat stress.
Foods fight stress in several different ways. First foods boost serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced by the brain to calm the body in times of stress. Secondly, foods reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones, which if overly abundant in the body for a long period of time can take a toll on the body. They also deplete levels of vitamin B, magnesium and can weaken the immune system. Lastly, foods can counteract the impact of stress on the body. To do this you would choose foods that build up the immune system and lower the blood pressure. So instead of running trough the drive thru the next time you’re stressed out choose an item from this list to bring down your stress.
Apples-Apples are a perfect snack for stressful times. They are full of fiber, which fills up your stomach, reducing any cravings you may have of sweet or fast foods. Because the body easily digests apples, you will get a quick boost of energy and nutrients from eating an apple. Apples are also known for regulation blood sugar levels.
Avocados- Avocados are filled with potassium, more so than bananas. Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure. So when you get stressed and your heart rate increases and your blood pressure skyrockets. By eating a piece of avocado your blood pressure will decrease and balance out your body.
Beans/Lentils- Beans and lentils are high in fiber and protein. They nourish the body and keep the body full for a long time, which eliminates the craving that stress causes. Lentils are rich in magnesium a mineral that helps to relax the body and calm the mind.
Blueberries-Blueberries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C so you get a double dose of stress reducing power. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals, which cause premature aging and heart disease. Vitamin C levels are greatly depleted in the adrenal glands during prolonged stress; therefore replenishing vitamin C stores can pack a powerful punch against stress. Additionally blueberries are low in calories and high in fiber, keeping you felling full for a while.
Complex Carbohydrates- When the body is stressed it craves sweets and carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates should be avoided because they have extra calories without the nutritional value. However, complex carbohydrates are digested slowly and stabilize blood sugars. When you eat complex carbohydrates the brain increases production of serotonin the chemical, which regulates mood, calms the body and relieves stress.
Dark Leafy Green Vegetables- Leafy green vegetables are chockfull of vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Vegetables include broccoli, kale, chard, bok choy, green beans, and spinach. Filled with vitamin B complex, which helps to relieve stress. Spinach also contains magnesium, which regulates cortisol levels. Magnesium gets depleted during stressful times.
Eggs- Eggs are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They also help to regulate blood sugar. Eggs can be consumed in many forms, however they should be consumed in moderation.
Fish- Cold water fish such as salmon and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids a healthy amino acid which helps the brain fight stress. These fish also contain vitamins B6 and B12, which help the brain synthesize serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical, which regulates mood and relieves stress.
Iron- Iron can be found in foods such as spinach and red meat. When you consume these foods you boost your energy and calm your mind.
Milk- Milk contains calcium as well as vitamins B2 and B12 and antioxidants. Calcium reduces muscle spasms, smoothes tension, and eases anxiety cause by stress. It is recommended to drink low fat or skim milk.
Oranges- Oranges are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to reduce stress hormone levels. Although it helps to strengthen the immune system after being bombarded by stress.
Seeds/Nuts-Seeds and nuts contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B2, magnesium and zinc. All have positive stress busting effects on the body. Magnesium regulates stress hormone cortisol levels. Zinc fights stress. Nuts and seeds that fight stress include almonds, pistachios and walnuts.