Work, family life, loss and many others can cause one to be stressed. Some stress is normal and can be life-saving in dangerous situations. However, being constantly stressed can lead to many problems that can harm our sleep, immune, digestive, and reproductive systems.
There are many ways to reduce stress levels, some of the main ones include exercise, meditation and diet.
Our Clinical Dietician, Amal Al Rifai, talks about the main superfoods that help us to fight stress.
Avocadoes are not only delicious mashed into guacamole or sliced and added to a salad, they also offer omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy essential acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent complex carbohydrate with a high level of tryptophan [an essential amino acid] that converts into serotonin-the feel-good hormone of the brain. They are also high in beta carotene, which boosts immunity when stress is high, and fiber, which helps stabilise surges in blood sugar caused by acute stress.
Nuts, particularly walnuts and almonds-are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that naturally decrease the stress hormonescortisol, which is secreted by our bodies when we’re under stress, and adrenaline, which stimulates heart rate, and dilates blood vessels and air passages. Nuts are also naturally high in vitamin B, which supplies the body with serotonin-producing carbohydrates. They are also a source of protein, which stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, helps to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body, but be sure to enjoy dark chocolate in moderation.
Drinking a warm cup of herbal tea is one way to help make yourself feel calmer. A warm beverage increases feelings of interpersonal “warmth” and friendliness.
Certain herbs like chamomile, lavender have been shown to have a relaxing effect.
Certain comfort foods, such as oatmeal, can reduce levels of stress hormones and also result in a boost in serotonin, which stimulates a feeling of calmness. Oatmeal is packed with fibre, B-vitamins and magnesium, all of which lower blood pressure, nourish the nerves, brain and adrenal glands, and stabilizs mood by providing a surge of serotonin.
Some studies have found that high levels of vitamin C may help reduce stress levels, Eating fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries is a good place to start. Leafy greens are also high in vitamin C.
This fish is full of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which help to boost serotonin production, Omega 3 fats help to nourish the brain while reducing the stress hormones.
As a final point, for short term and mild stress self-management through lifestyle can be very effective. However, if you are constantly stressed or have been stressed for a long time and can’t seem to benefit from lifestyle changes, it would be best to talk to a mental health professional to discuss other treatment options.