One thing we can definitely not avoid in life is stress. Whether it be spilling coffee on your pants while driving to work, having an argument with a significant other or having to meet a deadline, stress is a part of our daily lives.
There are a few things, however, that we can control. First, we can control what we eat. There are foods that can either increase or decrease the body's level of stress. Second, we can control our perception of stress.
I am a self-proclaimed Type A, like to control everything personality, so stress is a part of my life and that is okay. What I try to do on a daily basis is feed my body food that fuels it to power through all my activities and also keep my stress levels low because it can wreak havoc on the body. I also use essential oils and journaling as stress relievers as well.
For example, stress can cause...
Disruptions in sleep
Weaken your immune system
AND THE LIST GOES ON!
How does this happen?
Well, when your body is in a stressed state, your adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol (stress hormone) and ignites the "fight or flight" response. When this occurs, all "non-priority functions" such as digestion will slow down so you can escape whatever is causing you stress. If you are in a chronic state of stress, many bodily functions will continue to be affected such as the symptoms I mentioned earlier.
Below I have listed a few foods and practices that may help alleviate some stress and also help manage it better.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables:
spinach , kale, swiss chard and arugula are rich in folate (Vitamin B9) which help the body produce mood boosting neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
2. Fermented Foods:
sauerkraut, pickles (in a brine), miso, kimchi and kefir all have beneficial probiotics (good bacteria) to promote healthy gut function. This can help with digestion, nutrient absorption, Vitamin B12 production (energy), healthy immune and brain function. Around 80% of serotonin and around the same percentage of your white blood cells (disease fighting) are produced in the gut.
these fruits are rich in anthocyanin, the pigment that gives these berries their rich dark color. It also packs a high antioxidant punch helping rid the body of free radicals and helps produce dopamine in the brain to improve mood, memory and coordination.
rich in potassium, folate (B9), Vitamin E and other B vitamins, this fruit helps keep us satiated because of its fat content and also aids in blood sugar regulation. Avoiding those drops in blood sugar which can lead to cravings, helps avoid irritability and other mood disturbances due to hunger. *Stress can also affect your blood sugar, but I'll save that for another post!*
FOODS TO AVOID
this leads to fluctuations in our blood sugar because it is metabolized quickly. Blood sugar fluctuations can affect mood, fat metabolism and fat storage. Sugar can also lead to chronic inflammation which can depress the immune system and lead to depression.
Gluten: a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale can inhibit the production of serotonin. It can also lead to inflammation in the small intestine which can affect our nutrient absorption leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It can also cause inflammation in the body if it gets into the bloodstream, which can cause auto-immune diseases.
Processed Foods: if a nutrition label has ingredients you cannot pronounce, try to avoid purchasing it. If it is a name of a vitamin, most companies realize consumers may not know this information and put the more common abbreviations in parentheses (Vitamin B12). For example, did you know Vitamin B12 is also known as Cobalamin?
Caffeine: this substance can overstimulate the adrenal glands and cause additional release of cortisol (stress hormone). If you are having a few of the symptoms mentioned earlier, try to avoid caffeine and substitute with drinks such as herbal teas or those with theobromine which can boost energy without exciting your stress response.
studies have shown 15-30 minutes can lower cortisol levels and aid in better stress management by changing your perception of the stressor.
this is a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper (write it, don't type it) and cope with the stress of the day in a positive manner.
30-60 minutes before bed, grab a magazine or a book you've been wanting to read. This will help the body decompress and prepare for sleep.
avoid this at night! Close the laptop, silence the cell and turn off the TV. The type of light emitted from these devices can disrupt melatonin production, which can lead to difficulty falling asleep and also not having a restful sleep
I hope these tips help alleviate your stress and help you manage it more efficiently!