The Science of Stress – How Can Your Diet Help?

Not only can stress cause us to gain weight, by increasing cravings and decreasing the body’s efficiency, but a good diet can actually reduce stress. The right foods – including some indulgence now and then – can lower stress levels, bringing with it all of the benefits that low-stress carries, like improved immune system defences, and lower blood pressure.

Food works both directions, so choosing stress-reduction foods needs to be a conscious effort.

Have a Cup of Soothing Comfort

Drinking lavender or camomile teas has been shown to reduce stress, but almost any warm drink can sooth us emotionally, causing a reduction in tension. Add to it a restful moment in the quiet, in a comfy chair, and the effects are multiplied.

Indulge in Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has an effect on body chemistry that can help you to relax, but it also has an effect through the taste of it, so it works on your emotions too.

It is high in anti-oxidants, and reduces stress hormones in the body. You don’t want to overindulge, but 1.5 ounces per day has been shown to reduce stress over time.

That’s a tasty medicine, and can help with your harmonization.

Choose Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have been given a bad reputation lately, and cutting them out is a part of a lot of diet plans for weight loss. They are, however, of great use to the body and – if not over-indulged in – can help you by increasing levels of serotonin. Serotonin improves your mood and reduces stress. It even helps you to think more quickly and clearly when your serotonin levels are up. Concentration improves, and all of this can mean fewer emotional stresses and subsequent cravings.

Taking the time to really enjoy a serving of pasta in your favourite sauce, or a sweet potato mash, can be satisfying and good for you. You’ll want to avoid oily, calorie-rich toppings, but that’s easy enough with a tomato sauce and fresh herbs.

Find out more about the history here.

Enjoy Avocados

Avocados are delicious on their own, but are also soft enough to be versatile when used with other foods. You can slice them into a salad, use them as a spread, or as a topping on a stir fry or a carb serving from the section above.

They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and so they will also boost your concentration levels, cognitive function, and yes, they have been shown to reduce stress levels.

Eat Fatty Fish

Avocados aren’t the only good source of omega-3 fatty acids though, certain kinds of fish are also excellent sources. Look for tuna, salmon, sardines, halibut, herring, lake trout, and mackerel. These fish are high in nutritional value, and promote cardiovascular health. Eating these kinds of fish has been shown to ease depression by improving inter-cell communication, which also has a powerful effect on reducing stress. You can get a range of these including krill oil from Yumi Nutrition:

Make a Mug of Warm Milk

Warm milk, as has been known for hundreds of years, has a relaxing effect on the body. It helps to relax our mood and keep it stable, avoiding the steep cycle between highs and lows that can cause spikes in stress levels. On top of this, they are excellent for bone health and can ease the negative symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Grab a Handful of Nuts

Nuts are rich in fatty acids too, and they also contain a lot of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. They are higher in calories than many foods, so you won’t want to overindulge, but a regular, small amount of them (a small handful per day) can be a great benefit to overall health, and to stress reduction in particular. Pistachios have been shown to reduce stress better than most, but walnuts are also good and have the added bonus of helping to lower blood pressure levels. You can find out more about how biotin can help your skin nails and hair here:

Get More Vitamin C

Studies have shown that an increase in vitamin C consumption can have a positive effect on stress levels by reducing the amount of the hormone ‘cortisol’ in the bloodstream.

You can get vitamin C from most multivitamins and there are specific vitamin supplements just for vitamin C too, but the best way to get most vitamins into your system is through eating foods rich in them – studies have shown that absorption is better from natural, unprocessed foods than from supplements or heavily-processed sources.

Eat fruits such as orangs and grapefruits, and strawberries are also a great source. If you want to elevate your daily intake to some of the higher recommended levels – like 1000mg to 3000mg per day – then you’ll likely need a supplement in addition to eating vitamin C rich foods.

You can also take things like CBD oil to help you relax and remove anxiety:

Steve Bridge

University Researcher at On Leave
I'm a researcher specialising in microbiological data analysis, including the natural ecosystem influences and changes over time.

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