The following is an article written by Shin Ohtake, Fitness & Fat-Loss Expert
Author of MAX Workouts, The Ultimate Lean Body Fitness Program.
Despite what you may have have heard, stress is actually necessary for your well being. In fact, without stress, you would not be able to survive, it’s what triggers your fight or flight response.
This makes sense from a survival stand point, since you would only need short bursts of energy to move quick enough to catch a prey for food or flee from a predator to avoid being their dinner.
But now a days, survival doesn’t require much physical stress at all. Instead, your primary cause of stress is going to be more mental than physical. And since your body doesn’t know the difference between physical stress and mental stress, the hormonal changes that occur in your body stays the same.
When your body experiences any kind of stress, it needs time to recover. The problem is mental stress is different from physical stress… you can’t just shut your mind off. And that’s when problems begin.
Your body wasn’t designed to handle long exposures to stress induced hormones. These hormones are beneficial for short durations, but when you experience stress for a prolonged period of time, it can be very harmful to your body.
So how should you manage stress?
Well, there are many ways to handle stress, and for the most part it involves some kind of lifestyle change like doing a physical activity to help relieve your mental stress, or practicing meditation to calm your mind, or taking up a hobby to balance stress from work with personal enjoyment. These are all common and very effective ways to help you manage stress.
But did you know that foods you eat, can also help deal with stress? Eating the right foods can significantly help improve your mood and lower your stress levels. Here are some healthy and effective food choices to reduce stress:
- Lean Protein: Eating a healthy source of protein can help regulate blood sugar levels, which is beneficial to balance your mood. Good sources of protein include organic eggs, grass-fed meat, free-range pasture raised chicken, wild caught fish, organic nuts and seeds.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids are important for brain health, and they have also been linked with reduced anxiety and depression. Some of the best sources of omega-3’s include fatty rich like salmon, mackerel and sardines. You can also take quality fish oil supplements or krill oil supplements - which has shown to have less toxins, and more antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids than most fish-oils.
- Fermented Foods: Gut health has a direct impact on your mood, and if you want to improve the health of your gut, then you need to have good bacteria in your diet. Mood control is managed by both the brain and the gut, because they both contain serotonin. Fermented foods are a great source of good bacteria, and they include things such as kefir or other sources of fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut, natto etc. Resistant starch also helps promote healthy gut bacterial as well. And if fermented vegetables or resistant starch aren’t your thing, you can also take probiotic supplements to help promote a healthy gut environment.
- Turmeric: This spice is commonly used in Southern Asian dishes, and it has been studied for the many health benefits that it can offer. One of the benefits of turmeric is the fact that it might help with depression by enhancing your mood.
- Kiwi: This fruit is a great source of vitamin C, and it’s been found that vitamin C can help to reduce stress. When you are getting enough vitamin C in your diet, it helps to boost the function of your immune system and reduce the production of stress hormones.
- Dark Chocolate: A common reaction when someone is under stress is to reach for a chocolate bar. Well, there’s a reason for that. When you eat chocolate, a chemical reaction occurs that blocks the neurotransmitters in your brain that are linked with depression and pain. It’s important that you eat dark chocolate 70% or darker and avoid milk chocolate bars filled with sugar.
- Coffee: Another food that can impact the neurotransmitters in your brain is coffee, and it has been said that drinking a cup of coffee in the morning can have a positive impact on your mood. When coffee is consumed, it releases BDNF through a mechanisms that is triggered in the brain. BDNF helps to improve brain health and may help to combat depression as well.
- Dark Berries: Purple or blue colored berries, such as blackberries and blueberries, have anthocyanins in the pigments of the skin, which are antioxidants. It has been found that this type of antioxidant can be beneficial in helping boost your mood and enhance your memory function through increased dopamine levels.
- Bananas: Dopamine is a natural chemical food in bananas that helps improve your mood. Bananas are also a great source of B vitamins, which are beneficial to calm your nervous system as well.
- Oolong Tea: A cup of oolong tea has a soothing and calming effect, because it’s a good source of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This amino acid helps to reduce anxiety, and it has an overall calming effect by reducing the neuronal activities in your brain.
So there you have it. 10 stress calming foods that you can include in your diet to help you mange stress better.