10 foods and nutrients to relieve stress

Updated: Nov 4, 2017

Diet can play a significant role in reducing stress. Along with a healthy whole foods diet, there are several nutrients and foods which can help lower tension.

To be the best you can be in today's world of go, go, go, it's important to minimise stress as much as possible, especially for the sake of your health.

Food to Mood connection

Today's society is conditioned to look for convenience at the cost of quality in foods. This leads to the consumption of highly processed, chemically altered, highly preserved and fatty food choices. These foods increase inflammation and oxidative stress putting extra burden on both the mind and the body which is all detrimental to the body's natural ability to regulate stress and facilitate body processes.

There are several foods and nutrients required by the body to cope with stress responses as during times of stress many nutrients are quickly depleted, these act as catalysts and precursors to neurotransmitter, hormonal and metabolic activity and include;

1. Vitamin C which is depleted by chemical stressors such as pollutants and allergens therefore is often recommended to reduce oxidative stress and keep the immune system functioning while under stress.

2. B vitamins particularly B5 (pantothenic acid) as this vitamin plays a crucial role in adrenal support, when adrenals are under stress it often presents with fatigue, poor sleep hygiene, headaches and gastrointestinal upsets.

3. Neurotransmission plays an integral role in the way stress affects us and one neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is essential for functions of the central nervous system and in reducing cortisol levels which rise when stressed.

4. Anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids are often over thrown by mostly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids, this imbalance causes an overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines which lead to psychological stress.

5. Magnesium is depleted early when the body is under stress and is required for many body functions such as hormone and energy production. It also has a crucial role to play in muscle relaxation, cell formation and heart beat regulation.

6. Complex carbohydrates - whole grains, vegetables and fruits will boost levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that makes us calm. They take longer to digest and are also good at stabilising blood sugar levels.

7. Dark as dark chocolate has been shown when eaten in small amounts to provide magnesium, GABA and tryptophan which aids in the production of mood modulating seratonin. Not that there needs to be a reason to consume a little good quality chocolate!

8. Turkey is a great protein to include in meals as it contains phenylalanine, a precursor to dopamine which elevates mood and motivation and reduces stress levels.

9. Probiotics are beneficial and are being highlighted a lot recently with good reason, with all the processed foods that has little nutritional content and diets devoid of the foods (prebiotics) that feed our microbiome, there is as a result, a lack of harmony within the gut and the rest of the body. This affects the bidirectional communication between the gut and central nervous system (gut-brain axis) which affects how the body copes in times of stress. Look for natural fermented foods (natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir) to repopulate your microbiome and include prebiotics (fibrous vegetables/fruits) to keep them well fed and happy.

10. Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins including vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, D, E and more. They also provide minerals such as selenium which is required for thyroid health and reducing oxidative stress not to mention the amino acid tryptophan needed for seratonin release (think mood levels). These are all beneficial for stress related illnesses such as gastrointestinal disturbances, cardiovascular conditions, metabolic disorders and poor immune function.

So next time you are feeling stressed, take a look at what you are eating to see if it may be contributing to the way you feel and what you could do to change your body's response to stressful situations.

And remember to get good quality sleep, take time out and look after yourself, you know your body better than anyone, so listen to it...

#Stress #HealthyLiving #foodtomood #eattotreatnutrition

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