Feeling anxiety and stress? Try these stress-busting foods you need in your diet!

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Feeling anxiety and stress?  Try these stress-busting foods you need in your diet!

Stress can take a toll on all of us from time-to-time.  It can also affect your body’s natural defenses, but eating the right foods can offer a huge relief.  Choosing healthy foods to eat when you’re stressed can impact your mood on a positive note and relieve tension.

According to D. Joseph Mercola, nearly 40 percent of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress.  While it may be tempting to drown your anxiety in a large bowl of ice cream or a bag of potato chips….eating junk food while stressed may be particularly dangerous to your health.

If you’re feeling the pressure from a long day at the office, children acting out, financial stresses or relationship troubles.  Instead of reaching for those unhealthy snacks or traditional comfort foods when you feel totally overwhelmed, try these stress-fighting foods instead:

  1. Leafy Greens: Greens like spinach and kale are filled with folic acid, a nutrient that helps maintain normal levels of serotonin (as if you need another reason to eat them).
  2. Peppers: Red, green, and chili peppers are all high in vitamin C, which has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body and reduce the physical and psychological effects of stress.  If you hate peppers, nosh on citrus fruits instead.
  3. Celery: Some studies have shown celery is linked to lower blood pressure.  The minerals in celery, especially magnesium, and the essential oil in it, soothe the nervous system. If you enjoy a celery-based snack in the evening, you may sleep better.
  4. Grass-Fed Beef: Healthy fats are great for your mind, and grass-fed beef is filled with CLA, a particularly talented brain-boosting fat, along with other nutrients already mentioned, like vitamin C and zinc.  It’s much leaner than its conventional counterpart.
  5. Avocado: Speaking of fat… the healthy fats in avocado promote blood flow to the brain, and the popular fruit is also linked to lower blood pressure.
  6. Oatmeal: Oatmeal (especially made with steel-cut oats) is a good source of complex carbs, which help increase the production of serotonin, a chemical known for its amazing mood-boosting and –stabilizing powers.
  7. Bananas: At the same time, they’re a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte that supports cells in nerves as well as the heart and other muscles. Too little potassium can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension). You’ll also get a decent dose of vitamin C from a banana—17 percent of the daily value for this nutrient.
  8. Pistachios: A nut you haven’t cracked in a while? Some research has shown pistachios may help maintain levels of essential fatty acids and prevent inflammation (a stress reaction!) in the brain.
  9. Cashews: Cashews are a great source of zinc, a mineral that plays a major role in managing the body and brain’s responses to stress.
  10. Salmon: Put more fish on your dish to help you feel at ease.  A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you’re feeling tense.  Salmon is one of the very best sources of omega-3s:  Consuming 4 ounces at least three times a week goes a long way towards protecting your heart when those triggers are detected.

Your diet plays a major role in stress management.  Dr. Mercola also said that carbs, sugar and processed foods are the worst foods to eat when you’re stressed out and here’s why:

Sugar:  Sugar can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar, which can bring on mood swings, but its role in poor mood actually goes much deeper than that. Entire books have been written on this topic, such as William Duffy’s book, Sugar Blues. There are at least three potential mechanisms through which refined sugar intake could exert a toxic effect on your mood and mental health.

Gluten:  Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, may negatively impact mood and brain health. In fact, a number of studies indicate that wheat can have a detrimental effect on mood, promoting depression and even more serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia. One mechanism that can help explain the mysterious connection between wheat and mental health problems is the fact that wheat inhibits production of serotonin.

Neurotransmitters like serotonin can be found not just in your brain, but also in your gut. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression, and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Wheat in particular has also been implicated in psychiatric problems, from depression to schizophrenia, due to Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), which has neurotoxic activity.

Processed Foods:  The list of potentially mood-busting ingredients in processed foods is a long one. Aside from sugar and gluten, they may also contain trans fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, and other synthetic ingredients linked to irritability and poor mood.

It’s the perfect time of year to recommit yourself to your health goals.  Try to incorporate a healthy life-style and diet.  Try to incorporate a few of the stress fighting foods in your weekly menu. You’ll feel better, be happier and look amazing!

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