Food and Stress

Welook at the relationship between FOOD and STRESS!

Did you know that there are good mood foods and that eating too much sugar, fat and salt can increase your stress levels, let alone ruin your teeth, waistline, pancreas and heart!

What we eat and how we eat it, plays an important role in how we feel. It is a scientific fact that deficiencies in some essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients can lead to symptoms associated with stress, depression, behavioural problems and physical disease.

In conjunction with that, when you are faced with a stressful situation, your body eagerly consumes these nutrients, leaving you in short supply. Unless you replenish the stock, your stress symptoms, initially caused by a situation or event, will continue longer than normal because your body has been depleted of the essential nutrients that it needs for optimum brain function.

So – what are these essential nutrients, how can they help, and what can you eat to make sure your body and mind has the fuel it needs to run properly?

Foods specifically for stress reduction:

Asparagus – This green veggie is high in folic acid, which can help stabilize your mood. “When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that affect your mood,” says Geise. “Eating certain vitamins and minerals like folic acid and B vitamins can help keep your mood steady because they’re needed to make serotonin, which is a chemical that directly affects mood in a positive way.”

Almonds –Are you ever looking for something you can really dig your teeth into when you’re stressed? Try crunching on almonds to get some aggression out. A good source of Vitamin B2 and E, as well as magnesium and zinc, almonds are high in fat, but most of the fat is unsaturated. Like vitamin C, vitamin E has been shown to fight the free radicals associated with stress, and in particular, those free radicals that cause heart disease.

Oranges – A German study found that vitamin C helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well-known for boosting your immune system.

Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge you get for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fibre helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.

DARK CHOCOLATE (Hurray!!) A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that consuming 40 grams (about 1.4 ounces) of dark chocolate daily for a period of two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines, the fight-or-flight hormones.

The authors also concluded that their study “provides strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of … healthy human subjects.” Other studies had already suggested that chocolate relieved stress but this study provided evidence of the biochemical mechanism at work in relieving stress.