Stress can be a lot of things to different persons. Some relate stress to a feeling while some would equate stress to a mental health issue. Still others would equate stress with some changes in their bodies such as faster heart rates, increased breathing, and excessive sweating. In fact, researchers now point to stress as the single most common factor involved in so many diseases. Thus, it becomes all the more important that people should know how to manage their stress. Experts agree that in order to lead optimally healthier lives, individuals should have good nutrition, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle centered on the management of stress. Fortunately though, there are certain foods which are not only nutritionally superb but also excellent in fighting stress.
Here are the top 10 foods you simply have to include in your diet in order to become more effective in the management of stress in your life.
- Blueberries and Other Dark-Colored Fruits –The phytonutrients and antioxidants found in these berries can help the body fight stress. Boosting the immune system has been shown to be important in countering stress. Blueberries have been shown to increase the production, secretion, and efficiency of natural killer T-cells to boost the immune system.
- Cashews – The zinc content of cashews have been shown by studies to be particularly beneficial in alleviating anxiety. Additionally, cashews are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids for optimum cellular metabolism and antioxidant protection, respectively. Cashews can reduce anxiety symptoms by as much as 31 percent. This simply means you won’t have to worry about irritability and lack of concentration anymore when you chow down on cashews.
- Dark Chocolate – Studies show that dark chocolates can reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that mediates many stress responses. Reducing the level of secretion of cortisol can help reduce stress. Dark chocolate has also been shown to be beneficial to improving overall blood circulation and in lowering systolic blood pressures. Additionally, dark chocolates can stimulate the release of feel good neurotransmitters in the brain making you naturally more upbeat and optimistic.
- Green Leafy Vegetables – These superfoods contain folate which can play a role in the increased secretion of dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter from the brain. This allows you to feel calmer, more energetic, and a lot happier. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and mustard greens make for an excellent source of stress-fighting substances.
- Milk – Vitamin D-fortified milk has been shown to boost happiness in a study that included 5,966 individuals who are at increased risk of depression and panic. At the same time, the calcium content of milk as well as B vitamins can help provide for stronger bones and more efficient cellular metabolism and nervous system functioning.
- Oatmeal – This breakfast favorite can help stimulate the production and release of a feel happy neurotransmitter, serotonin, from the brain providing an excellent control of stress. You will feel more upbeat, calmer, and generally happier after consuming a bowl of oats. Other whole-wheat foods can also produce the same beneficial effects.
- Salmon and other Cold Water Fish – Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can serve to counteract the effects of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that are involved in the mediation of stress reactions. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce anxiety attacks by as much as 20 percent. The cardioprotective properties of omega-3 fatty acids are also added benefits.
- Seeds –Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed are excellent sources of magnesium which can play an important role in the regulation of emotions. Studies also show that seeds can do well to alleviate irritability, fatigue, and depression. Additionally, seeds have also been shown to be effective in managing premenstrual symptoms that can include water retention and cramps.
- Tomatoes – Best known for its lycopene, tomatoes make for excellent anti-stress foods as well as help protect the body against certain cancers particularly of the pancreas, ovaries, the breast, prostate glands, lungs, the colon, and the bladder. Studies show tomatoes also help prevent certain heart diseases because of its lycopene content. This provides an excellent overall health benefit profile and not only against stress.
- Yogurt – Studies now show that yogurt contains probiotics which can help reduce the activity of certain areas of the brain that handle emotions. What it does is that these probiotics block the signaling pathway towards these emotional centers to keep you calmer and generally more peaceful.
These are just 10 of the most common foods that have been shown by studies to be particularly beneficial in reducing stress levels. There is definitely no harm in including all of these in your diet. However, do understand that taking the right amounts is as important as taking the correct kind of anti-stress food.