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A Healthy Diet Can Reduce Your Stress

April 5, 2012


April is National Stress Awareness Month.  In today’s day and age, we all have jam packed schedules and take many responsibilities.  At times it can be extremely overwhelming, but there are things you can do and foods you can eat to help manage and control your stress levels.  High stress levels can cause health issues to arise and can be harming to your mental state.

It is important to identify your stressors and what triggers you to become “stressed out”.  Keeping a stress log can help you see what caused the stress, how it made you feel emotionally and physically, what your reaction was, and what you did to make yourself feel better.  Some unhealthy ways of coping with stress include smoking, overeating or under eating, consuming alcohol, procrastinating, or taking your stress out on others.

Tips to better manage stress:

  • Focus on the positive!  Many times when we have so much going on that we are struggling with, we forget to focus on the positive aspects of our life.  Take a moment and remember all the good that surrounds you.
  • Swap unhealthy stress responses with good habits such as taking a walk, exercising,  calling a friend, taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or reading a good book.
  •  Avoid stressful situations, if possible.
  • Adopt a healthful lifestyle: get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, participate in regular physical activity, and reduce your intake of caffeine and sugar.
  • Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks; there may be too much on your plate and you will find that you can actually delegate to others.
  • Improve your time management skills so you can better manage your time to get more tasks accomplished thereby reducing your stress.

Foods to eat to lower your stress level:

Several studies suggest that certain foods can positively impact stress by boosting levels of serotonin, the “feel good” calming brain chemical.  Other foods reduce the level of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones that can negatively impact the body in a person suffering from chronic stress.  Try to include the following foods in your menus as often as you can:

  • Complex carbohydrates:  All carbohydrates tell the brain to make more serotonin. Complex high fiber carbs such as whole grain cereals, breads, and pastas are the best type to eat.  In addition, these carbs are digested slower and help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, can prevent a surge in the stress hormones.  It is suggested to try eat fatty fish 2-3 times per week.
  • Vitamin C: Studies have shown vitamin C found in oranges and other fruits and vegetables can help reduce stress levels while boosting the immune system.
  • Spinach: Think spinach the next time you are feeling stressed.  Often times, stress and pressure can deplete the body of magnesium.  Magnesium, which is found in spinach, helps to regulate cortisol levels, one of the stress hormones.  Eating just one serving of spinach can help restore your magnesium levels.
  • Pistachio Nuts: A handful of pistachios each day can help reduce blood pressure, which often increases during a stressful time.
  • Almonds are high in vitamin E and B vitamins and can help to body bounce back during times of stress

What are some other ways YOU keep your stress under control?

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