When it comes to stress management, we often overlook how massively helpful our #nutrition can be. Two basic facts may help us to understand why our food intake is so important when it comes to stress:
- A huge portion of our serotonin (our ‘happy hormone’) is produced in the gut. If we are not taking care of the gut, production of these mood lifting chemicals will be compromised…definitely to be avoided if we are already feeling anxious and maybe a little low.
- About 70% of the immune system is found in the gut. We all know how likely we are to feel more run down and generally less healthy when stressed, so the last thing we want is to encourage reduced functioning of the body’s defence mechanisms. Instead we should be looking to “up” our immune responses, & this can best be done taking care of our nutrition.
Making good food choices when stressed has to start from an understanding of which nutrients are likely to be depleted when we are under stress. Additionally, certain foods which naturally enhance brain function, and/or increase energy levels will be helpful. Finally, ensuring good gut health in general is key.
- Anxiety often leads to a deficit of folic acid: try asparagus, citrus fruits & juices, dark leafy greens, beans & legumes
- Vitamin B levels may be low when stressed: try incorporating poultry, seafood, bananas, and leafy green vegetables, alongside eggs and milk to create your own vitamin B complex
- Magnesium levels are likely to be low if you are stressed: try spinach, almonds, avocado, bananas…& dark chocolate!
- Omega 3 fatty acids aid brain functioning (especially memory and mood), and also reduce inflammation, so these too are good for fighting stress. Think of oily fish such as salmon and tuna, along with flaxseeds, walnuts.
- Amino acids can help stop us feeling sluggish and help clear ‘brain fog’: good sources are beef, eggs, fish, beans, seeds, and nuts.
Our gut health in general is dependent on gut flora and the gut barrier. To support these we need to be aware of including fermentable fibres and probiotics in our diet. For detailed yet concise explantation of this, check out the link here.
Finally, the bad news is that lots of those things we love to eat (& drink!) when we are stressed these should be absolutely out of bounds. So, if you really want a ‘self help’ list for combating stress, you should eliminate or at the very least cut down on:
- Processed foods
Typical symptoms of stress are low mood, fatigue and bring fog. So remember:
“if we eat better foods like lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish, we short-circuit the junk food cravings and have higher energy levels and sharper mental focus…”