Helpful Foods That Reduce Stress
There are many factors that can cause stress both at home and at work, but did you know that even the food you eat can also affect stress levels? Poor nutrition puts your body at higher risk for giving in to stress. A balanced diet keeps you healthy and better able to fight stress. When stress levels are particularly high, there are certain foods you can eat to reduce stress and make you feel calm and relaxed again.
Carbohydrates play a key role in the formation of serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical produced by the body. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, oats, brown rice, barley, sweet potatoes, bulgur and quinoa are also good sources of B vitamins (including B6) which promote the production of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid necessary for serotonin production. Complex carbs are best because they are digested and absorbed more slowly than simple carbohydrates, thus keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Stress causes your body to release more free radicals. Studies show that Vitamin C fights free radicals, reduces the levels of stress hormones, and strengthens the immune system.
A glass of warm milk before bedtime has a calming effect and can help put you to sleep. The calcium in milk reduces anxiety and alleviates mood swings related to PMS.
Dark chocolate promotes the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter known for its calming and “feel-good” effect. Chocolate is one of the best foods to reduce stress because it is a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that the brain uses to produce serotonin.
Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin A, a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals. It also provides magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can trigger headaches and fatigue that can cause more stress.
Salmon and tuna are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids that may help protect the heart and curb levels of stress hormones in the body. Nutrition experts recommend that you consume 3 ounces of fatty fish at least two times a week.
Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and flax seed may help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood and protect against cardiovascular disease. In addition, walnuts are rich in magnesium while almonds are excellent sources of Vitamin E and B vitamins. These food nutrients all help to reduce stress.