This time of the year always brings back a stressful, anxiety ridden feeling in my stomach. The weather getting cooler and the thought of school starting makes my stomach turn and my heart race. Although stress and anxiety are often associated with situations, there are many nutritional ways to relieve the tension. Making sure you consume a healthy diet with the proper amounts of folate, tryptophan and serotonin producing amino acids can help a lot during stressful situations.
Dark chocolate is a popular treat consumed to reduce stress and anxiety; however, it has actually been shown to relieve the tension. It contains antioxidants that trigger your blood vessels to relax. This lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. It decreases levels of stress hormones in your body.
When you’re stressed and your body needs a bowl of spaghetti, listen to it! Carbohydrates help the brain make serotonin. This is the same ingredient that is in anti-depressants. Make sure you choose complex carbs, like whole grains. Your blood sugar tends to spike when you are stressed and complex carbs won’t add to it.
Omega 3 fatty acids counteract the spike in anxiety hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. They can also help boost concentration and mood while benefitting the cardiovascular system. Salmon and avocados are high in omega 3s. The omega 3 fatty acids in salmon have been shown to improve the communication between nerve cells, reducing anxiety and depression.
As you know from my previous blogs, probiotics help with EVERYTHING! Having too many bad bacteria in the gut can contribute to anxiety and stress. Stress has been shown to inflame the gastrointestinal tract, interfering with the brains communication with the gut and making you more uncomfortable. So consume your probiotics in yogurt, kefir, or kombucha.
Various types of nuts, especially pistachios, have been shown to lower blood pressure levels and reduce stress. They are high in B vitamins and healthy fats. Not only do they contain beneficial nutrients, but the act of cracking open a pistachio shell can keep you distracted and reduce stress.
Grab a glass of milk when you’re stressed. Vitamin D boosts happiness. Many foods with vitamin d and calcium can help relax muscles and stabilize your mood. You can find vitamin d and calcium in salmon, egg yolks, fortified milk, and cereal.