10 Best foods for stress relief
Are your stress levels out of control lately?
You might want to take a look at what you are eating. Believe it or not, there is a strong connection between the brain and the gut.
Here, we throw light on 10 best foods for stress relief…
Though small in size, seeds such as flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are packed with a whole lot of goodness.
One of their key nutrients that help with stress relief is magnesium. Magnesium can aid in regulating cortisol (the painful stress hormone) levels and in turn boost feelings of well-being.
In 1968, Wacker WE, Parisi AF reported in their study ‘Magnesium metabolism’ that lack of this nutrient could lead to depression, behavioural disturbances, headaches and more. All of the symptoms could be reversed once the deficiency was looked into.
This was further proved in 2006 by George A. Eby and Karen L. Eby (as published in Medical Hypotheses), where they found out that rapid recovery of around 7 days was possible by providing magnesium treatment to those suffering from its deficiency.
Here is another reason to add those greens into your diet. Not only do they pump you with energy and assist in your quest for weight loss but leafy greens like spinach can help to alleviate stress symptoms too.
Reason being? They are a good source of folate, the very nutrient that can produce dopamine. For those who are unaware, dopamine is a pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in the functioning of the brain and body.
We have science to back this fact. Lower levels of folate have been found in those suffering from stress and depression.
In a 2012 study published in Journal of Affective Disorders, it was reported that the middle-aged and elderly individuals who included more folate in their diet were at a lesser risk of depression symptoms than those who took in the least.
To top that, spinach also contains magnesium, which as mentioned before is highly effective in regulating the stress levels.
3) Orange and other citrus fruits
Another food that can be made a part of your daily diet is orange or other citrus fruits that are high on Vitamin C. Vitamin C has proven to help lower blood pressure as well as cortisol.
Reports suggest that it aids in diminishing both the physical and psychological effects of stress on people.
As per a study in Psycho-pharmacology, those who consumed good dosages of this nutrient before partaking in stress-inducing activities had lower blood pressure and bounced back quicker from the cortisol surge than those who took a placebo.
The added bonus is that Vitamin C will also help detoxify your body and lend you with glowing skin and hair, which will further up your happiness quotient.
A tall glass of milk every day not only keeps your bones in good health but can also be effective in regulating the mood. This liquid contains the protein lactium, which offers a relaxing effect as it lowers the blood pressure.
Milk is also a source of potassium that aids in alleviating muscle spasms triggered by feeling tense.
This nature’s goodness is one of the few sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. Just like folate, vitamin B12 has stress-relieving properties and is an important nutrient to treat restlessness and depression.
As per a study conducted by Coppen A1, Bolander-Gouaille C., ‘oral doses of both folic acid (800 microg daily) and vitamin B12 (1 mg daily) should be tried to improve treatment outcome in depression.’ (as cited in J Psychopharmacol. 2005 Jan.)
Another powerhouse of nutrients, nuts such as almonds and pistachios can help in alleviating stress too. They contain the magic B vitamins.
Earlier, we mentioned the importance of Vitamin B12. B vitamins are vital ingredients for producing and proper functioning of various neurotransmitters, one of them being dopamine which enables us to experience pleasure.
Nuts also contain potassium, a nutrient that helps in healthy functioning of the nervous system along with regular heart rhythm.
It is further effective in giving you a boost of energy as well as controlling blood pressure. So, carry around these nuts while on the go and pop them when required.
6) Dark Chocolate
Now, don’t we just love it when something indulgent and delicious has health benefits? Next time you feel that you are feeling stressed or in a bad mood, bite into some decadent dark chocolate.
Recent studies presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego showcased that dark chocolate, packed with cacao (around 70 percent) can positively impact the stress levels and mood as well as immunity.
As per the researchers, the flavonoids present in cocoa are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that are advantageous for brain and cardiovascular health.
Just ensure that you practise moderation, they do have sugar in them after all!
Why salmon? They contain DHA omega-3 fatty acids (the very nutrients that lend you gorgeous skin and hair). On an internal level, omega-3 fatty acids aid in keeping cortisol and adrenaline in control when feeling nervous and tense.
As per a study in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, it was found that subjects who consumed omega-3 supplement (that contained DHA and EPA) for around three months noted diminished anxiety levels by 20 percent as compared to the placebo group.
Do you recall how you tend to get an upset tummy when very stressed?
Science has proved that there is a connection between the brain and the gut. So much so, that a hassled intestine can transmit signals to the brain and vice versa.
In other words, an individual’s stomach or intestinal distress can be a reason or trigger stress and anxiety. That is when yoghurt steps in, it’s healthy bacteria helps maintain gut health and keep digestion in order.
As per a study in 2013 UCLA, around 36 healthy women confessed that taking probiotics in yoghurt diminished brain activity in areas that managed emotion (including stress) in comparison to those who had yoghurt without probiotics or no yoghurt at all.
We had already mentioned how antioxidants in cocoa enable smooth functioning of the brain and cardiovascular system.
Blueberries are another potent food that contains high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients which come to your defence against stress-related free radicals and battles one’s response to stress.
They also are a source of vitamin C. The combination comes handy as when we are distressed, we need vitamin C and antioxidants to assist in repairing and protecting the cells.
As per studies, those who consume blueberries have an increase in natural killer cells which are critical to the immune system (this in effect helps ward off stress).
Carbohydrates might have got a bad reputation from the weight watchers but the truth of the matter is they are vital for our health.
As per a research by MIT, carbohydrates can assist our brain to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood among other things.
But instead of reaching out to simple carbs, it is best to opt for complex ones such as oatmeal that take longer to digest and hence do not spike your blood glucose. Plus, the calming effect will linger for a longer time!
Do note: Stress can be highly detrimental to your mental and physical well-being and be a cause of several diseases.
If you feel that stress, depression and anxiety are hindering your ability to lead a normal life, it is highly recommended that you seek therapy from a professional. Psychologists in India are well equipped to set you on a path to recovery. You can also consider online counselling.
By the end of it, keep in mind, what you put into your stomach has a positive or negative impact on your overall mental and emotional well-being.