Humans require energy and strength and where do we get them from? Food. Specifically, the nutrients in food. In order to help our bodies perform their life functions, especially brain functions, we must get the essential carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, and vitamins that we need. These will also help us manage stressful circumstances and reduce stress altogether.
Nutrients That Combat Stress:
1. Iron: Helps with extreme tiredness or exhaustion (caused by an iron deficiency) that leads to depression.
2. Magnesium: Helps with insomnia, chronic exhaustion or tiredness, increased muscle tension, and restless leg syndrome, all of which can trigger depression and anxiety.
3. Protein: Helps regulate mood, appetite, cognitive function, sleep, and increases your levels of tryptophan, which is a building block of protein that is responsible for making serotonin, also known as the “happy, feel-good hormone.”
4. Vitamin B12: Helps your body with the creation of new DNA molecules and red blood cells, supports proper functioning of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, and assists with fighting depression.
5. Vitamin C: Helps manage your immune system, cardiovascular health, and high blood pressure, all of which promote stress relief.
6. Vitamin D: Helps control chronic fatigue, depression, hypertension, and muscle pain.
Foods That Fight Stress:
1. Brown Rice: Chock full of B complex vitamins, fiber, decreases the level of cortisol in your body, which is the hormone that is produced during times of stress, and is a slow-burning carbohydrate so it promotes sustained energy release. When you have high levels of cortisol, your blood sugar levels are at risk. In order to regulate your cortisol levels, incorporate brown rice into your daily diet.
2. Fruits: Lemons and oranges pack a punch of vitamin C but you can also opt for bananas, blueberries, cantaloupes, cranberries, grapefruits, kiwis, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, pomegranates, plums, raspberries, etc. to get your dose of this crucial vitamin. From this vitamin, your levels of folic acid, tryptophan, and tyrosine are increased, and your thyroid hormone secretion is stimulated, which are all vital for managing and reducing stress.
3. Vegetables: Also packed with essential nutrients are asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, hot peppers, kale, spinach, tomatoes, zucchinis, etc. but generally, fruits contain more serotonin than vegetables. However, they still help with stabilizing your mood.
4. Nuts: Walnuts or any nuts in the walnut family contain a large amount of serotonin and help to lower your blood pressure. Almonds are powerhouses full of vitamin B12 and vitamin E, which protect the body from free radicals that can wreak havoc on it and fight off diseases and serious illnesses. Almonds have a ton of magnesium and zinc, which are necessary for countless functions in your body. Sunflower seeds are another great nut to consume as they contain a considerable amount of folic acid and promote the production of dopamine, the pleasure-inducing hormone. If you don’t have any of those, hazelnuts and pistachios are also good options.
5. Dark Chocolate: Do I need to give you another reason to eat dark chocolate? Dark chocolate has the capability to restore the balance of essential chemicals in your body which are key to stress management. What’s more, dark chocolate decreases cortisol levels and serves as a natural pain reliever since it produces endorphin while upping the amount of serotonin, which combats anxiety and mood swings.