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STRESS-RELIEVING FOODS

Eat your stress out!

September 9, 2021 0 comments
stress relieving foods

Stress-relieving foods work just like a soothing music piece after an exhaustive day.

We know you are looking to reduce your stress, and you probably know the basics like:

  • Self-care,
  • Sleep management,
  • Exercise.

But, the food thing has caught your eye.

Right?

stress relieving foods

And you must be wondering, What now?

There must be a bunch of questions in your head like:

  • Does a healthy diet lower stress levels?
  • What are the foods that help with anxiety?
  • Are there any food types we should preferably avoid?

And many more.

Worry not!

We are going to answer each one of them.

So, let’s begin!

Is food a quick solution for reducing stress hormones?

Food plays a potential role in making your stress levels go up or down.

It can be your best friend or your worst enemy!

Studies have found strong ties between high-fat/sugar content food and varying emotional states. (1)

You must have noticed how tasty, junky foods leave a delightful mood.

That’s nothing but a stress-relieving phenomenon.

It means… when you eat a tasty meal— you feel optimistic for a while.

Now, what does that mean?

Well, junk food may feel like they

  • mute your stress and anxiety,
  • save you from chronic unpredictable mental issues

But here’s the catch!

They’re short-term solutions.

Heavy dependence on such foods shall only increase complex carbs in your body!

Which increases your stress to another level.

You must be confused thinking: what to eat then?

Don’t worry!

The answer to this is: have meals that can help your brain function smoothly.

Foods items rich in

  • antioxidants,
  • vitamins,
  • minerals,
  • proteins.

It can reduce your stress to a large extent.

What is the stress hormone cortisol, and what does it do?

hormone cortisol

Cortisol, also called the stress hormone, is a chemical released by your adrenal gland during a stressful situation. (2)

Remember you felt stressed thinking of semester’s exams? Or when you had to get placed in your first job?

Well, that was nothing but cortisol signaling your body.

It’s your body’s coping mechanism to stress: which is a good thing.

Cortisol plays several roles in your body like:

  • Adjusting sleep cycle.
  • Decreasing inflammation.
  • Improving blood sugar.
  • Regulating blood pressure.
  • Managing body proteins and fats.

It also provides energy to your body to deal with stress levels and acts as a shield in the short run.

But you also don’t want cortisol levels to cross the limits.

It can leave negative impacts on your body, such as

  • Inflammation,
  • Altered blood pressure.

So… to manage stress, can we say lowering cortisol levels works?

Yes, we can!

Managing stress = Lowering cortisol levels.

Which are the foods for anxiety?

When you are stuck with work deadlines, healthy eating seems like a monumental task.

But some foods help in stabilizing blood sugar and calms your anxious episodes.

Food plays a potential role in making your stress levels go up or down.

It can be your best friend or your worst enemy!

So, it’s essential to take note of what you eat when you feel weary.

A review published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences(3) suggests— when you’re stressed, your body demands more nutrients like Vitamin B, C, Magnesium, and Protein

And the quality and amount of essential nutrients you take over time affect your body’s neural circuits.

If you didn’t know, the neural circuit manages your emotion and mood.

Getting addicted to junk food can increase your

  • Stress levels the risk of blood pressure.
  • And cause other chronic health issues if you don’t address them on time.

So the next time you feel anxieties kicking in, get these nutritional elements in your armory.

Now, let’s arm you with appetizing stress-busting pantry stuff:

Stress-relieving foods: Foods high in vitamin B

foods high in vitamin b

Vitamin B plays a significant role in lowering down your stress levels.

And what’s fascinating is all the variants of Vitamin B curbs stress in different ways.

  • The group of Vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining cortisol levels
  • Vitamin B1 is controlling high blood pressure
  • And, Vitamin B3 is playing a vital role in balancing serotonin levels

The following staples are a rich source of vitamin B.

Beef

Beef and organ meats contain heavy amounts of Vitamins B3, B6, and B12

Studies suggest that a 100 gm serving provides about one-third of the recommended dietary intake of these vitamins in addition to smaller quantities of other B vitamins. (4)

All these vitamins have stress-busting properties.

Add this to your anxiety diet, and you’re good to go.

Chicken

Chicken, especially the white meat portions, is high in Vitamins B3, B6, and B12

It also contains other vital minerals such as

  • potassium,
  • chromium,
  • iron,
  • selenium,

Now you can gorge on Chicken wings without guilt while saving yourself from stressful situations.

Eggs

Eggs are a great source of

  • B vitamins, especially B5 (Pantothenic acid) and B12 (Cyanocobalamin) and
  • Vitamin d,

Two large eggs supply 46% of your daily need for vitamin B12 and 39% of your daily value of vitamin B2.

Cheese

Cheese is an organic source of protein and vitamin B12 for vegetarians.

Whole milk Swiss Cheese contains the highest amount of B12 with 36% DV per ounce.

Here are some varieties of cheese that are high in vitamin B12:

  • Mozzarella,
  • Gjetost,
  • Feta,
  • Brie and
  • Tilsit

Cereals

Barley, oats, and millets are rich sources of vitamin B.

Cereals also offer many minerals like:

  • manganese
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • copper
  • zinc
  • magnesium and
  • selenium

Green tea      

Green tea contains:

  • Vitamin B and
  • Antioxidants

Consuming it daily can help relieve anxiety and stress.

To your surprise, it also contains Theanine: An amino acid found which helps you relax and get a better mood.

A warm cup and your whole stress: gone!

Stress-Relieving foods: Foods Rich with Vitamin C

This vitamin is known to fight stress because it helps the body in clearing out excessive cortisol levels.

Research in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (5) stated that deficiency of C vitamins is linked to stress: related disorders, and consuming foods rich in it eases symptoms and reduces depression.

Oranges

As we know, Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C. Orange is the best one and delivers a whopping 53 mg per 100 gms.

It helps with:

  • reducing cortisol levels.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Boosting your immune system.

Broccoli

Broccoli is as rich in vitamin C as an orange and is considered one of the best foods that lower cortisol.

Half-cup broccoli contains 50 mg of the vitamin.

It is loaded with fiber and other antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and stress.

Capsicum

Capsicums are an excellent source of this citric vitamin and other antioxidants.

One cup of capsicum contains 152 mg of Vitamin C.

Yellow capsicum is way more nutritious compared to the red and green ones.

Stress-relieving foods: Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids

foods high in omega-3 fatty acids

When you take Omega 3 fatty acids in the right amount, you can feel changes in your

  • stress level,
  • aggression,
  • chronic mental disorders.

These foods reduce inflammation.

You can have it in its best form through

  • fatty fish, or
  • from many plant sources.

Now, look at some of the staples that can help your share of omega-3 fatty acid:

Avocados

You get a lot of omega-3 fatty acids from avocados.

You can say these are the good fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.

Half an avocado contains around 100-150 calories of healthy fatty acids.

It also reduces the chance of heart disease and lowers cholesterol.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds contain a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acid.

A single oz serving contains 5 grams of fatty acid.

60% of the oil in Chia seeds is from omega-3’s.

Chia seeds have tryptophan: an amino acid that releases serotonin and makes you feel good.

Salmon

Salmon is all about

  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • vitamin D
  • DHA

which

  • boosts serotonin
  • nourishes the brain
  • weakens the stress hormones

A 100 grams chunk of Salmon contains nearly 208 calories.

Oysters

You get a bunch of polyunsaturated fatty acids from oysters, which reduce your depression symptoms.

They are high in fatty acids and contain 199 calories per 100 grams.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is good fat and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Low and regular doses of it can help reduce stress and improve memory.

Olive oil is pretty high on calories, with 100 grams of it containing about 884 calories.

Stress-relieving foods: Foods rich in magnesium

foods rich in magnesium

Magnesium in its nitrate form is an excellent option in reducing stress and anxiety.

It plays two significant roles in the brain:

  • Blocking the neurotransmitters from further stimulating activities.
  • Binding the calming receptors to resort to a peaceful state.

The following items are a must if you’re looking for a magnesium-rich diet.

Bananas

Bananas are among the list of the most popular fruits in the world.

They are high in magnesium and potassium, which help lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart diseases.

Just one banana contains 37 mg of magnesium and 89 calories per 100 grams.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is not only healthy, but it’s also delicious.

It is extremely rich in magnesium, with a one-ounce chunk containing 64 mg and 155 calories.

Dark chocolate is also a storehouse of other minerals like iron, zinc, manganese, and copper.

Research says that regular intake of an average chunk of dark chocolate changes your brain frequency and reduces the stress hormone cortisol.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are an arsenal of magnesium and a known food for relieving anxiety and stress.

It also contains tryptophan: which helps in stimulating serotonin levels in your body.

Serotonin doesn’t only make you happy but also boosts melatonin levels which regulates your sleep cycle.

Pumpkin seeds account for 262 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.

Spinach

Spinach is loaded with magnesium and vitamin A.

Your daily share of cooked spinach (one cup) has 157 mg of magnesium.

Spinach, when taken in the right quantities, plays a positive role in reducing your stress hormones.

Stress-relieving foods: Foods rich in protein

Protein boosts the production of brain chemicals like:

  • Norepinephrine and
  • Dopamine

A higher level of these chemicals improves mental energy, alertness and reduces stress.

Foods rich in protein contain amino acids which help the neurotransmitters in treating anxiety and depression.

The following food items are what you should adapt to if you’re looking for protein-packed meals.

Almonds

Almonds are full of protein and other nutrients like:

  • Vitamin B2,
  • Vitamin E,
  • Magnesium,
  • Zinc,
  • Antioxidants.

These nutrients help your body with:

  • fighting against cell damage,
  • production of serotonin that helps regulate mood.

Almonds are packed with 28 grams of protein per 1 cup.

Lentils

Lentils are a rich source of plant protein and are a great alternative to animal protein.

About 1/3rd of calories in lentils is protein.

It is also high in:

  • Folate,
  • iron,
  • phosphorus,
  • potassium,
  • fiber.

Lentils contain tryptophan which triggers the release of serotonin, the feel-good chemical.

Peanuts

Peanuts are a powerhouse of protein.

Snacking on it daily can help you with stress because peanuts stimulate serotonin.

With every 100 grams, you get 26 grams of protein.

Shrimp

If you’re looking for a protein-packed diet that also runs low on calories- Shrimp is the answer for you.

In a 100 grams chunk, you get 24 grams of protein and only 99 calories.

Isn’t it a great deal!

Shrimp contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute towards easing out your mood.

Stress-relieving foods: Foods good for your gut

Research has found a link between gut microbiota and gastrointestinal and extra gastrointestinal diseases.

Inflammation of the gut can cause various mental illnesses like anxiety, stress, and depression.

Our gut controls 70-80% of our immune system, so we need to correct our gut health to correct our immunity.

These probiotics and fermented foods are what you need to resort to if your gut health is at stake.

Greek Yoghurt

Greek yogurt contains:

  • probiotic cultures,
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus,
  • Lactobacillus casein.

Which helps in

  • strengthening the digestive system,
  • increasing good bacteria in your gut,
  • reducing anxiety and stress.

Kimchi

Kimchi to your gut health is like sunlight to plants.

It nourishes your gut.

Kimchi contains:

  • probiotics,
  • vitamins,
  • minerals,
  • antioxidants.

Which not only takes care of your digestive system but also influences your mental state.

Kombucha

Our gut works just like the brain: it can function independently of the nervous system.

Kombucha is rich in probiotics which works wonders for the gut.

Probiotics also enhance the production of serotonin: the feel-good enzyme.

Apart from this, kombucha has tons of other nutrients like Vitamins B1, B6, B12, and C

Which play a vital role in relieving anxiety and stress.

What foods to avoid with anxiety?

In addition to adapting to a healthy meal, you have to remove certain food items that can trigger anxiety.

You must avoid foods that are:

  • heavily processed,
  • oily,
  • heavy on sugar,
  • high on fat,
  • too spicy,
  • high on caffeine.

These food items are likely to raise your cortisol levels and make you feel more stressed.

Below are ten foods that increase cortisol and make you more depressed.

Ice-cream

You may feel like ice cream is your partner in crime during those stressful days.

But!

It’s precisely the opposite.

Ice cream is high in sugar and calories, which spikes blood sugar and changes your hormone levels.

Thus, making you feel more anxious and depressed.

Coffee

Coffee doesn’t cause anxiety usually, but caffeine can deepen your symptoms if you are prone to it.

Want to know the reason?

Let’s dig in!

Caffeine does two things to your brain:

  1. It releases dopamine in the prefrontal cortex: a brain area essential for mood regulation.
  2. It helps store the dopamine in the amygdala: a brain area important for anxiety control.

And when taken in excessive amounts, it can cause jitters.

Pretzels

These baked pastries, though tasteful, can cause potential damage to your body.

  • The high sodium content skyrockets your blood pressure.
  • The refined carbs trigger anxiety.

The reason being, pretzels are made of simple carbs, which drive your glucose levels.

Increasing the stress hormone- cortisol.

Chinese meals

Chinese foods: no matter how tempting they are – they shoot your sodium levels.

It is advised to NOT go for Chinese food if your body is already stressed.

The soy sauce in the Chinese dish is a sodium bank.

Which can lead to high blood pressure or hypertension.

Canned soups

Though convenient and quick, Canned soups are what you must avoid if you’re trying to get rid of your anxiety.

Canned foods contain Bisphenol-A: an endocrine-disrupting hormone that can bring variations in your moods.

Not only this, but it can also point your genes toward obesity.

Diet Soda

Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners known as Aspartame.

These sweeteners block the production of serotonin.

Google: How to get blood sugar down in a hurry? The result will be to cut down the intake of artificial sweeteners.

And can also lead to a variety of problems like:

  • headache,
  • insomnia,
  • mood instability,
  • stress.

It is best if you consume it at a minimal rate.

Pressed Juice

Avoiding juices?

Why on earth would I do that?

You must be questioning this to yourself, right?

Hear this out!

Unlike whole fruits, juices lack fiber and are filled with glucose and fructose.

Result being:

  • spike in blood pressure,
  • glucose triggering adrenaline,
  • fructose altering the brain responses.

Tofu

You already know what Tofu is made up of-soy.

and soy contains:

  • Gluten,
  • is high in copper.

Which not only makes you feel sluggish but also takes time to digest.

Red Wine

Wine can make you whine over your anxiety.

Regular intake of wine or any other alcohol can lead to chronic problems like:

  • Sleep disorders
  • spike in blood sugar
  • dehydration

And all this can sum up to – STRESS.

Wheat Bran

Wheat bran though high in fiber is low ranked in the stress relief department.

It contains a heavy amount of phytic acid, which absorbs essential minerals like:

  • zinc and
  • magnesium

Which can make you feel more anxious than usual.

However, if you’re a fan of it, better try soaking it before eating.

Does eating well and consistently help?

There’s just a straightforward piece of advice for you if you’re looking for relieving stress- Don’t skip meals.

Never do that!

Munch on nuts or diet-friendly snacks every three to five hours.

Your blood sugar levels need a boost frequently.

And skipping meals can be harmful to that.

Low blood sugar for a prolonged period can increase your cortisol levels.

And high cortisol = stress.

Pay attention to your body’s needs.

And make sure to add foods that reduce anxiety to your diet.

There are several biohacking methods to reduce stress

Read the articles to know more.

FAQs

Take a look at some of the frequently asked questions.

Which fruit is best for stress?

Citrus fruits or fruits rich in vitamin C are best for stress relief.

As we know, Vitamin C is a brain booster and is considered one of the best antioxidants for anxiety.

Foods that have the highest vitamin C content are:

  • Cantaloupe,
  • Oranges,
  • Grapefruit,
  • Kiwi,
  • Pineapple etc.

How can I reduce stress quickly?

There are some easy-peasy ways you can reduce your stress level in a matter of seconds:

  • Go for a walk,
  • Take a deep breath,
  • Bask in the sun,
  • Stretch,
  • Chew a gum,
  • Squeeze a stress ball,
  • Do some yoga,
  • Eat chocolate,
  • Try some meditation,
  • Have some green tea,
  • Have a conversation with a friend
  • Laugh,
  • Slurp some honey.

What are the five foods you should eat when you’re stressed?

The top 5 foods that are known to reduce stress are:

  • Brazilian foods,
  • Fatty fish,
  • Eggs,
  • Pumpkin seeds,
  • Dark chocolate.

How can I reduce stress naturally?

You can alleviate your stress levels by this simple methods:

  • Eat healthy food,
  • Drink a lot of water,
  • Exercise regularly,
  • Find out what triggers you and work on that,
  • Communicate your feelings,
  • Get some sleep,
  • Watch your favorite show,
  • Read some good books.

SOURCES:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843770/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4436856/
  3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition-pictures/how-to-reduce-stress-with-diet.aspx
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-foods#:~:text=Summary%20Beef%20boasts%20high%20amounts,amounts%20of%20other%20B%20vitamins.
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3884093/

 

 

 

 

 

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