9 Foods to Help Reduce Stress
We all deal with a bit of stress in our daily lives. At work or home, and sometimes even at play, stress can pop its ugly face in our routine. And, while a little stress is healthy for us to maintain our drive, too much can be detrimental to our bodies.
On days when our bodies have simply had enough, it’s easy to want to jump into the snack drawer and eat our way out. I know, I’ve been there. But, we’re often left with an overwhelming sense of uneasiness afterward. Stress may have dissipated, but the guilt of unhealthy eating fills the void.
To combat adding more tension to your already busy life, here are nine foods to help de-stress and keep you healthy at the same time.
Admitting chocolate is a healthy snack is most people’s dream come true. However, in this case, the stress reducing qualities come from dark chocolate that contains 70 % cacao or more. By eating a small portion of a dark chocolate bar, our cortisol levels decrease. This can reduce our heart rate and help calm our breathing. Thus, stress literally melts away in each bite.
A handful of nuts
Nuts provide a variety of nutrients the body needs daily. But, in stressful times, eating a small handful of pumpkin seeds, cashews, or almonds can be beneficial. These nuts, like others, contain magnesium. When our bodies have the right amount of magnesium, our cortisol levels can be regulated. This greatly reduces the feeling of being stressed.
Whole grain bread
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates found in oatmeal, breads, and pastas. For stress reduction, be sure you are using whole grain products. Filling up on simple carbohydrates found in processed foods will have an adverse effect and cause us to be more stressed.
The basis of the whole grain approach is for overall gut health. As our gut is responsible for 95 % of our serotonin receptors, it’s important, we give it what it needs.
A glass of milk
My grandmother always offered a warm glass of milk when someone felt distressed. And, while we may not have known it at the time, the old timey remedy holds some truths. Milk contains the amino acid, tryptophan which has sleep inducing qualities. So when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, a glass of warm milk- or hot chocolate (as long as it’s dark) may calm you down.
Broccoli, like other dark green vegetables, contains folate. Folate is essential in the production of the chemical, dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure drug. When our dopamine levels are regulated, our sense of balance is as well.
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna have been linked to lowering anxiety. These mood-altering foods not only benefit in times of stress, but also provide essential brain boosting powers as well.
The vitamin C found oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes can help the body quickly clear out unwanted stress hormones. Filling up on this super vitamin helps build our immune system while reducing stress.
Foods high in zinc such as eggs, beef, oysters and lamb are known to boost moods. Zinc is removed from our bodies through urine, sweat, and saliva. If you ever feel your mouth water when under high levels of stress, or your forehead sweats profusely, that’s a sign of zinc leaving your body. Eating an egg yolk or a nice rare steak can reboot your system back to normal.
Pickles brined in sea salt and water are natural probiotics. Just as whole grains aide in overall gut health, the probiotics found in pickles, sauerkraut and live-cultured yogurt serve the same purpose. In short, probiotics are essential for a healthy gut. A healthy gut leads to overall hormone balance. Thus, less stress in the long run.
Rather than filling up on coffee filled with sugar and cream, a nice cup of hot tea may be just what your body needs to relax. Mint teas not only soothe an anxious mind, they also aide in upset stomachs. Chamomile teas are well known for their calming abilities. Ginseng acts as a super tea in terms of ultimate mind and body healing. And, while I always suggest researching the source of any essential oils or teas you use, most of these teas are readily available. Once you find a flavor tea you like, cover it while it steeps and then sit back and relax.
A cold glass of water may be the one thing most of us need the most when a major stress attack occurs. Water by itself has refreshing properties. However, cold water in our over-active system acts as a welcomed distraction.
Our bodies become hot and our blood pressure rises when we’re stressed. When we flood our system with something cold, it functions as CTL ALT DEL to our bodies. Giving us a chance to catch our breath and slow our heart rate.
In turn, stress slowly leaves our system.
Don’t let stress rule your life
Stress can play a major role in our overall health. With too much stress in our daily lives, we risk high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or even death. It’s important that through diet, exercise, and life style changes we keep our stress levels low. It’s easier said than done though, isn’t it?
Taking small steps to gain control of our stress levels can start with something as simple as replacing a soda with a glass of water. Or, adding a green leafy vegetable to your dinner plate. A hot cup of tea in the morning rather than that sugary latte.
A few small steps in the right direction is much better than eating your emotions at the all you can eat pie bar. So, next time you’re stressed, think about these few foods and drinks that may make you feel better.
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