Stress can take a toll on your body’s natural defences but eating the right foods can offer relief. We all feel wrung out sometimes by the stress of daily life and, unfortunately, we tend to reach for junk food. But high-calorie or sugary foods only trick us into thinking we feel better.
Eating healthy food-and making that a conscious choice-can actually offer some real stress relief. End the cycle of eating bad-for-you foods and find relief elsewhere. Instead, add these truly anti-stress foods to your diet
Stress depletes our B vitamin stores and snacking on nuts helps replenish them. B vitamins keep our neurotransmitters in their happy place and help us handle the fight-or-flight stress response. The potassium in nuts is also key: Penn State researchers found that a couple servings of potassium-packed pistachios a day can lower blood pressure and reduce the strain stress puts on our heart
2. Red Peppers
While oranges get all of the vitamin C hype, red peppers have about twice as much (95 vs. 50 mg per 1/2-cup serving). In a study in Psychopharmacology, people who took high doses of C before engaging in stress-inducing activities (oral presentation followed by solving math problems aloud) had lower blood pressure and recovered faster from the cortisol surge than those who got a placebo.
To keep your wits about you when life gets hairy, you need omega-3s, especially DHA. In a study in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, people who took a daily omega-3 supplement (containing DHA and EPA) for 12 weeks reduced their anxiety by 20 percent compared to the placebo group. You won’t get the same mood boost from the omega-3s (ALA) in flax, walnuts and soy, though, so shoot for about 2 servings a week of wild salmon or other oily fish.
This leafy-green veggie is rich in stress-busting magnesium. People with low magnesium levels (most of us, actually) are more likely to have elevated C-reactive protein levels-and research shows people with high CRP levels are more stressed and at a greater risk for depression. Magnesium helps regulate cortisol and blood pressure too. And since magnesium gets flushed out of the body when you’re stressed, it’s crucial to get enough. Other solid magnesium sources: beans, brown rice.
A study from University College London discovered that tea drinkers de-stressed faster and had lower cortisol levels than those who drank a placebo. Although (caffeinated) black tea was used in the study, caffeine revs the stress response in many people, so stick to decaf and herbal teas. Drinking herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint or ginger can be wonderfully soothing to the digestive tract, which can help with stress by calming the nervous system in your gut.