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10 Foods That Reduce Stress

10 Foods That Reduce Stress

Most of us WANT and NEED to reduce stress in our lives. Getting good and quality sleep, hydrating, enjoying healthy relationships, and eating nutritious foods are ways that we can help our bodies recover from stress and live in a calmer body.

What is Stress?

Stress is an experience or feeling of physical or emotional demand or tension. It can come from any life event or thought that makes you anxious, frazzled, frustrated, overwhelmed or overworked. We all struggle with how stress impacts our lives and bodies. Are you stressed? Understanding what is happening in your body can help to educate and empower you in de-stressing.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands. Often called the “Stress Hormone,” it releases when we experience stress. It can help to reduce inflammation, and manage macronutrients (Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates) to control your blood pressure. Ideally, cortisol is a short term boost of energy released to respond to an immediate stressor. If you are continually stressed however, you can have too much cortisol in your body. Too much can lead to inflammation and raise your blood pressure. This is one of the reasons why we all hear about or have experienced getting sick when we are stressed.

Did you know that the foods you eat can help to lower your stress? Some foods more than others can help your body flush out extra cortisol. And some foods increase your happy chemicals: Serotonin and Dopamine. It is a helpful strategy to eat foods that help to decrease Stress Hormones and increase your Happy Chemicals. Anti-inflammatory foods and minimally processed foods are great go-to’s.

Top Ten foods to help you reduce your stress and increase calm.

Stress Reducing Foods

1. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains a high amount of flavonoids, which have been shown to help to prevent stress reactivity in the adrenal glands, resulting in lower cortisol release.

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains (1):

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 67% of the RDI for iron
  • 58% of the RDI for magnesium
  • 89% of the RDI for copper
  • 98% of the RDI for manganese
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

2. Greek Yogurt: The probiotics help to lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar and have probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are friendly, symbiotic bacteria in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Prebiotics, such as soluble fiber, provide food for these bacteria. Both probiotics and prebiotics can assist gut and mental health.

3. Seeds: Packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, they are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Flax and chia are seeds with the highest amount of healthy omega-3s, so stock up!

4. Leafy Greens: Contain Folate, the vitamin that helps produce the “good feeling” chemicals in our bodies: Dopamine and Serotonin. Try fresh, organic kale, swiss chard, and spinach.

5. Citrus Fruits: containing high amounts of Vitamin C--which is known for providing essential for your health. Adrenal glands use vitamin C to release Cortisol--so we need more Vitamin C when we are stressed. To balance your bio-chemical and physiological body--vitamin C is a trusted source of energy.

6. Lentils and Beans: are high in fiber, which supports a healthy gut while also managing blood sugar levels. The protein amount in a serving of lentils is sufficient for any meal. Also high in polyphenols, plant compounds that have antioxidant properties that help you stay protected against disease.

7. Avocados: are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Although most of the calories in an avocado come from fat.

8. Complex Carbohydrates: boost serotonin (the happy chemical) elevating mood and reducing stress. Carbohydrates sometimes have a bad reputation. It really depends on what kind of Carbohydrates we are talking about. Processed carbs found in packages and jars--most likely contain other ingredients that put stress on your body for digestion. However, whole foods, minimally processed carbohydrates found in plant sources are excellent for your health and can reduce stress in your body. Examples are: Whole-wheat bread, Barley, Quinoa, Oatmeal, Beans, Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes.

9. Nuts: are full of nutrients, B vitamins, healthy fatty acids and magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating the body’s response to stress. Chronic physical or mental stress depletes your body of magnesium, and low magnesium levels intensify stress — creating a vicious cycle. Magnesium modulates activity of the body’s stress-response system, and studies suggest increasing magnesium intake may reduce anxiety, ease stress and minimize the response to fear.

10. Artichokes: Full of fiber, rich in prebiotics--artichokes stimulate healthy bacteria, aiding in better digestion. Artichokes are high in magnesium, Vitamin K, potassium, and Vitamin C. These nutrients are known for stress reduction.

Eating nutrient dense foods helps our bodies calm down, which helps us emotionally calm down. When we eat highly processed foods-- we are demanding that our body work extra hard. There are hundreds more foods that help to reduce stress. Aiming to eat food that is whole and clean makes our bodies and lives happy.

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