Stress can take a toll on your body’s natural defenses, but eating the right foods can offer us some much needed support. Everyone feels tired, pressed for time, or just plain stressed during different times. During these times, we often reach for convenience or junk food. High-calorie or sugary foods only make us think we feel better. Eating healthy food through conscious choices can actually change our bodies’ natural stress response so that we actually feel better.
Adding vegetables and fruit with Vitamin C are a great way to decrease our stress response. Research shows people who consume high doses of Vitamin C before high-stress activities have lower blood pressure and recover faster from the hormone surge of cortisol that is released when we’re anxious.
Tip: Try Peppers. Red peppers contain twice as much Vitamin C as oranges (90mg vs. 45mg).
The DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) found the omega-3 fatty acids has been found to reduce anxiety by up to 20% when eaten at least twice a week.
Tip: Try fatty fish low in mercury. Examples are sardines, cod, salmon, shrimp, or scallops.
People with low magnesium levels, which is most of us, are more likely to have elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Adults with high CRP levels are more stressed and at a greater risk for depression. Magnesium helps regulate cortisol and blood pressure too. And since magnesium gets flushed out of the body when you’re stressed, it’s crucial to get enough.
Tip: Try Green leafy vegetables. Beans, brown rice, and bananas can be high in magnesium.
Carb-eaters can feel calmer than those who sidestep carbs. Carb-avoiders reported feeling more stressed in studies. Make sure you reach for complex-carbs from whole grains because they are digested more slowly and don’t spike blood sugar.
Tip: Try Oatmeal. Oatmeal or other whole grains also have magnesium, which is a bonus!
Stress depletes your B vitamin stores. B-Vitamins keep our neurotransmitters in their happy place and help us handle the fight-or-flight stress response. Specifically, Vitamin B5 is very important for the adrenals and therefore helps with modulating stress. Good food sources include liver, meat, turkey, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, chilies, legumes, nutritional yeast, and molasses.
Lastly, balance your diet with a healthy amount of sleep and physical activity
Source:: Wilson JL. Clinical perspective on stress, cortisol and adrenal fatigue. Advances in Integrative Medicine, 2014;1(2):93-96.
Edited by: Lindsey Traudt, LCPC