Stress is a part of daily life for most of us, but you don’t have to take it lying down. Changing habits and setting boundaries can optimize your body’s ability to handle problems.
For instance, eating differently is a simple fix for many issues.
Studies show that when you’re not eating right, your brain has a harder time handling pressure. Certain vitamins and minerals help the body and mind focus better and cope with stress.
In fact, deficiencies in vitamins D and B are linked to depression and anxiety.
If you want to naturally fight off stress, the first thing to look at is your diet. Adding these seven foods to your regular meal plan will boost your body’s ability to cope with life’s gentle nudges and harsh shoves!
Eggs are one of those debated foods. Are they healthy? Are they not?
The bottom line is that eggs are full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that your body really needs. You can go overboard, and if you have to watch your cholesterol, you need to limit your egg intake.
But this is one of the few foods that contain choline, a nutrient that is known to aid in brain health. Between the choline and antioxidants, eggs are a perfect stress-relieving meal.
If turkey is on your Thanksgiving menu, there’s a reason for your after-dinner semi-coma. It’s one of the best foods to promote relaxation!
Turkey has tryptophan in it. This amino acid increases serotonin production, the hormone linked with stress reduction.
Your body doesn’t sleep and rest without the proper hormones. That’s where serotonin comes in — it’s the neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, tells your mind to sleep, and reduces anxiety.
As a word of warning, though:
The benefits of tryptophan are reduced if you cook your meat in an unhealthy way. Fried foods and leftovers take away the sedative effects you might be seeing.
3. Dark Chocolate
You do have to put away the ice cream and cakes, or you’ll be dealing with after-binging guilt, which is a whole other form of stress. But you can still get your sweet fix with dark chocolate.
There’s something naturally stress-relieving about indulging in decadent food. Dark chocolate gives you that type of relief and doubles it with the chemical change your body receives.
The antioxidants in this sweet treat lower your stress hormones. Moderation is key, though. One ounce of a chemical-free dark bar with no added sugar is enough.
4. Whole-Grain Carbs
Like turkey, carbs increase serotonin production, which is why pasta is often seen as comfort food.
However, too many unhealthy carbs have a lot of negative, stress-increasing side effects. Stick to whole-grain options for the comfort feeling without the unwanted after-effects.
Whole-grain carbs help increase focus and concentration. Fiber also works with your digestive system, and a healthy gut is another way to keep your stress levels down.
A handful of pistachios, almonds, and walnuts can help stave off the moody blues.
Your brain requires certain nutrients in order to process anxiety. One of the essentials is magnesium. Inadequate levels of this mineral can reduce serotonin production and make it difficult for you to handle stress.
Nuts are full of magnesium. Loading up on a few ounces of your favorites is a great way to satisfy snack cravings and increase your stress-relieving hormones.
As an added benefit, nuts are full of B vitamins, which are essential for brain health.
Too many nuts in your diet increase your fat and calorie intake, though. They’re a better choice than cookies or chips but still should be monitored.
6. Fatty Fish
Not sure what to cook for dinner? Skip the steak and other red meats and go with a fatty fish option instead.
Salmon, herring, sardines, and other fish are full of omega-3 fats, which are essential to brain health. In fact, they’re so essential that pregnant women are encouraged to supplement their diet with extra omega-3 fats.
Your body can’t produce this fatty acid, so you have to get it through food or supplements. Omega-3 reduces inflammation and promotes circulation and blood flow. Both of these are necessary for your body to process stress.
For a non-meat option, avocados are another way to get your daily dose of omega-3 in your diet. Add them sliced up in your salad or make a guacamole dip to enjoy these mood-boosting fruits.
Moderation is necessary with all fatty fish and avocado meals. Too much omega-3 increases your blood sugar and thins your blood. Limit your meals to no more than three times per week.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries! Load up on all your favorite sweet treats for near-instant stress relief.
These fruits are high in flavonoid antioxidants, which have strong anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. This means that they reduce stress-related inflammation and defend the body against cellular damage caused by stress.
As an added benefit, they’re a mood booster!
Berries are also full of vitamin C, which is crucial for a healthy immune system. Your body will crave C when it’s feeling stressed or attacked. Instead of turning to junk food, grab a bowl of strawberries and dip them in whipped cream or yogurt.
If you know you’re prone to chronic stress or anxiety, keep berries on hand and snack on them regularly. You’ll soon notice your body is able to process stressful situations easier.
Stress can be a vicious cycle to get out of. A stressful event triggers your body to react in ways that throw your day, sleep, and productivity off track.
Getting off a routine increases the pressure you feel, adding more stress. Repeat!
How you handle stress depends a lot on the nutrients in your body. With these seven foods, your immune system can defend against the physical attacks inside and boost your mood, too.
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