12 Foods That Can Lower Stress
Stress can be overwhelming and hard to deal with. In most cases, it can significantly affect one's physical health, with symptoms including low energy, headache, muscle pain, chest pains, and exhaustion. Not to mention, severe and long-term stress could potentially increase the risk of mental health conditions.
With that in mind, looking for ways of managing stress levels and keeping them at bay goes a long way. For instance, you may resort to yoga, physical exercises, meditation, and relaxation. These activities can go hand in hand with online counselling in Canada and double as a wellness tool. Furthermore, you can also incorporate some food items into your diet to help lower your stress levels.
Foods That Can Help Lower Stress
Consuming healthy foods is believed to help relieve stress in different ways, such as boosting serotonin levels and reducing your adrenaline or cortisol and stress hormones. A healthy diet can also help combat stress impact by lowering blood pressure.
Suppose you’re looking to boost your mental well-being by eating foods that can help lower your stress. In that case, this article lists some of the food sources you can incorporate into your diet to combat stress. Read on to learn more.
1. Foods Rich In Soya
Soya is a soybean product and a good source of tryptophan that is responsible for producing serotonin. It is also a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and healthy fats.
Although the health benefits of soya are extensive, the serotonin produced can be vital in reducing stress levels. Normal serotonin levels may come with improved mood, thus potentially leading to lower stress in the long run.
Some great soya foods to incorporate into your diet include soya beans or soya milk that can be added to smoothies or taken as an alternative to cow's milk or regular milk. Another soya-rich food you might enjoy is tofu, which can be added to soup, salad, quiche, or as an alternative to meat.
2. Whole Grains
Foods that can boost serotonin are believed to lower stress. Incorporating them into your diet comes with a lot of benefits. For one, once you consume food rich in the 'happy hormone' and your serotonin levels increase, you’ll have better concentration and focus.
Some food sources rich in whole grains include oats which can be eaten for breakfast, brown rice, and pasta, a staple in most houses.
By adding nuts into your diet, you can get magnesium which is known to boost the release of a neurotransmitter that can calm the nervous system, thus can lead to reduced stress. Magnesium produced from nuts can also lower high blood pressure and headaches, making it perfect for your health. And like food sources rich in soya, nuts can also be a great source of tryptophan. Moreso, it is also rich in fiber, healthy fats, and protein.
Some great examples of these include almonds which are rich in vitamin E and antioxidants that can protect you against stress. Other great options are walnuts and pistachios, a good source of healthy fats.
4. Foods Rich In B vitamins
Vitamin B-complex combines eight different vitamins that contribute to the body's overall health. And some of these vitamins are responsible for lowering your stress, such as:
- Vitamin B3 and B6: These vitamins are part of the B group category and are vital in regulating the body's serotonin levels which directly affect a person's mood and mental stability. A lifted mood can help you fight and cope with stress.
- Vitamin B5: This vitamin can help regulate the glands responsible for regulating the stress hormones known as cortisol. And with your stress hormones regulated, you might start noticing a decrease in your stress levels.
Food sources rich in B vitamins include green leafy vegetables, eggs, whole grains, legumes, and milk.
5. Probiotic Foods
A healthy gut is vital in producing and transmitting neurotransmitters that affect one's mood. Some studies suggest that probiotics can enhance mood and alleviate anxiety. As such, incorporating this into your diet is also recommended.
Good probiotic food sources include yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, traditional buttermilk, pickles, Natos, etc.
6. Herbal Tea
Herbal teas have always been enjoyed and used to boost health starting from way back. And most herbal tea drinkers tend to enjoy the feeling that it leaves behind. And perhaps one of the best feelings people tend to have after consuming herbal tea is its calming effect.
However, herbal tea has more to offer than just warm feelings and calming effects. Specific types of herbal tea are known to contain antioxidants that can be instrumental in protecting your body against stress. Some of these teas include:
- Chamomile tea: This herbal tea has been associated with a good night's sleep and reduced anxiety-related issues. Chamomile tea can provide relief due to a substance called apigenin, which contains soothing properties. These properties make chamomile tea have relaxing effects that can significantly relieve stress and anxiety.
- Lavender tea: Lavender extract is popularly used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. And even as a drink, lavender herbal tea can offer many benefits for your digestive and mental health. People who have drunk lavender tea in the morning and night have been said to reduce their stress and anxiety levels.
Cocoa is one of the main flavonoids that can boost brain health and promote relaxation. Cocoa is believed to reduce your stress levels through chemical and emotional impact. By indulging in foods made of cocoa, the sweet feeling and scent can help lessen your stress levels and create a lighter mood.
In addition, cocoa contains phenethylamine, which is responsible for boosting dopamine and endorphins, known to help regulate one’s mood. However, while beneficial, cocoa-rich foods such as dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation. Likewise, you should also consider and ensure that such food sources don't have added sugar.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C that can help repair and protect cells responsible for maintaining stress. Blueberries can also help regulate cortisol levels and help boost serotonin in your body.
Aside from the many health benefits they provide, they are also low in calories. That said, you can easily incorporate them into your daily meals. For instance, you can blend blueberries into smoothies, add them into cakes, use them as toppings for breakfast, or even eat them fresh as a snack.
9. Fatty Fish
When looking for food that can combat stress, fish rich in omega-3 fats like salmon can also be a great source, as they can help boost your brain and nerve function and balance your emotions. In addition, salmon is also rich in tryptophan, which as previously mentioned, is responsible for serotonin production.
Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin D which can help promote a positive mood. Other great examples include tuna, herring, sardines, and lake trout.
10. Green Vegetables
Green vegetables are filled with nutrients that can boost folate levels, reduce depression, and have a lot of benefits for the nervous system. The nutrients found in green vegetables include magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, and vitamin C.
And since any food with vitamin C is filled with antioxidants, your brain function can have added support, and stress levels can be reduced. In addition, the iron and B vitamins found in green vegetables can boost energy production in the body, lower fatigue, and enhance your mood.
Some examples of these include kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli, lettuce, and many more.
Turmeric is well known and loved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help aid in chronic inflammation related to many health problems.
Turmeric also contains a bioactive compound responsible for boosting serotonin and dopamine levels. And with boosted serotonin levels comes the relief of anxiety and depression.
You can take turmeric in different ways depending on what you fancy. For instance, you can use it to make a drink such as a turmeric tonic, in a stew, or take it as it is. However, you need to note that too much turmeric might have side effects and thus needs to be taken in moderation.
Avocados aren't just delicious when mashed into guacamole. They are essentially filled with omega-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins that can help alleviate anxiety. These healthy acids have also been associated with boosting concentration, reducing stress, and improving mood.
Not only that, but avocado is also rich in fiber and other essential nutrients. As a result, you can enjoy adding avocados as part of your daily meal and using it in different ways, including for breakfast on toast.
Sadly, stress is now part of almost everyone’s day. It can be a minor setback or a significant one that can take a toll on one's mental health. Fortunately, there are various ways one can manage and cope with stress. Adding healthy foods to your diet can be one of them.
With the food sources listed above, you can be as creative as you want with your meals as you embark on a journey toward healthy mental well-being.
Connie Kelly is an assistant nutritionist. She shares her knowledge and expertise in proper nutrition through guest posts. Connie also enjoys baking and reading in her free time.