We all experience stress from time to time. It’s a normal response to challenging situations and can even be helpful in small doses. But when stress is overwhelming or long-lasting, it can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Stress is often interconnected with the way we eat.
Stress can lead you to unhealthy snacking in an attempt to cope with difficult emotions.
And also, unhealthy eating can aggravate stressful situations that involve indigestion, shame, and nutrient deficiencies.
But the good news is there are also some foods that may be able to help you reduce your stress levels. While these may not be miracle cures that solve all your stress problems, they can provide nutritional components that are important for stress hormone regulation.
Here are seven foods to help you reduce stress:
Salmon and other fatty fish, such as mackerel and sardines, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s perform a lot of different functions in your body. But one of their most important roles relates to supporting a healthy nervous system. For example, people with low levels of omega-3s are more prone to anxiety and depression.
So, eating foods rich in omega-3s, like salmon, may help reduce stress levels by ensuring your mood is well-regulated and your brain is working effectively.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are other great sources of omega-3s. They’re also densely packed with all sorts of other essential vitamins and nutrients that your body and brain need to stay healthy.
Many studies suggest that including nuts in your daily diet can provide protective effects against depression and can even help preserve cognitive function in older adults who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative disorders.
This could be due to the high concentration of both omega-3s and antioxidants present in most nuts and seeds. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress damage—a significant contributor to cell and tissue damage, chronic illness, and signs of aging.
Yogurt and Other Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are rich in probiotics.
Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut and support a healthy digestive system.
Good evidence suggests probiotics can interact with your emotional state through the gut-brain axis. In other words, your gut’s health can influence how you think and feel.
One study demonstrated that people who eat fermented foods more frequently tend to have fewer symptoms of stress and social anxiety.
So, incorporating some fermented foods into your diet may help to reduce stress levels by promoting a healthy gut.
For a long time, garlic has been prized as a natural remedy for all health problems.
And recent research has confirmed that garlic has some powerful health benefits, including helping to reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and may even provide some protection against cancer.
Garlic is also known to be neuroprotective, meaning it helps to support and preserve cognitive function. This could be due to garlic’s high concentration of antioxidant polyphenols. These substances help to reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage.
And by helping your nervous system function more optimally, garlic may also help to reduce stress levels.
In addition to being full of fiber, vitamins, and essential minerals, fresh fruit can provide you with a tasty treat when you are in a bad mood.
While it may be tempting to reach for junk foods like candy, cookies, ice cream, or fast food when you are stressed out, this is not a healthy coping mechanism to rely on.
Junk foods are loaded with added sugars and unhealthy fats and provide little nutrition. They might provide a brief bit of pleasure, but they will not help you overcome stress in the long term.
On the other hand, eating fresh fruit can satisfy that same urge for something enjoyable while also providing you with essential nutrients that can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
One of the most well-known benefits of green tea is its ability to promote relaxation. This could be due to the fact that green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to promote relaxation without causing drowsiness.
Sipping a cup of hot tea can also be a soothing and comforting experience in and of itself. It provides the perfect opportunity for peace, mindfulness, and relief moments.