Stress has been known to lead to health issues like heart problems, excess weight, stomach and digestive problems. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, inhibits functions that interfere with the “fight or flight” response. Specifically, it alters the immune system response and suppresses the digestive tract, reproductive system and growth processes. Altering the immune system can leave you more susceptible to illness and suppressing the digestive tract can leave you feeling constipated and ill.
Luckily, what we eat can help us protect against the negative consequences of stress and the havoc it reaps on our bodies. If you are feeling stressed, try these foods to minimize the negative effects of stress on your body:
Oatmeal has a calming effect and is a rich source of soluble fiber and vitamin B. Oats are one of the best food sources of magnesium, and magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, depression and anxiety. Furthermore, the fiber in oatmeal helps sustain your good mood.
Chia seeds are high in magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and Omega 3-fatty acids. As mentioned, magnesium helps to calm you down, while potassium helps to regulate your heart. B vitamins maintain our nerves and brain cells and omega 3 fatty acids have been found to reduce cortisol levels.
Almonds are loaded with B vitamins and magnesium, which are involved in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood, relieve stress and improve sleep. Almonds have also been shown to have high levels of Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant, which protects against damaging effects of free-radicals.
Raw unprocessed cacao has is full of health benefits, namely magnesium and anti-oxidant flavonoids. Research has shown that eating a little dark chocolate a day can help reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, significantly.
Berries are extremely high in vitamin C, high in fiber, and low in calories. Vitamin C is important to helping our body reduce tension and boost the immune system. Fiber helps to regulate our blood sugar levels. Regulating blood sugar levels is important because drastic changes in our blood sugar can cause us to have mood swings, which may contribute to anxiety.
This root vegetable releases “feel good” chemicals serotonin and epinephrine, helping elevate your mood. Sweet potatoes are also high in potassium and Vitamin B6 which contribute to relaxation.
Salmon, among other fish, is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Vitamin B12 in your diet enables you to produce the necessary serotonin to combat depression and improve your sleep. This is especially important if you suffer from anxiety and can have trouble sleeping. Serotonin is vital in the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep.
Dark Leafy Greens:
Greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are loaded with B vitamins and folic acid, which are important nutritional allies to combat stress. Vitamins B1 and B3 can help protect the nervous system, helping your body be better equipped to deal with a stressful environment.