Updated: Sep 25, 2019
In our fast-paced lives, stress can be relentless and excessive.
The link between stress and weight gain has been well established in research and it may be why your diet and exercise plan are not achieving your desired results. More information can be viewed under blog Stress more, Weigh more.
One powerful way to cope with stress is to consume foods rich in stress-reducing nutrients.
Certain nutrients have been shown to counteract or minimise the harmful effects of chemicals and hormones, such as cortisol, produced during times of stress.
These nutrients include Omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids -tryptophan, theanine, phenylalanine and tyrosine, Vitamins E, C and B as well as minerals including zinc, magnesium, potassium and selenium.
Some complex carbohydrates can also help in the fight against stress.
The following foods contain stress reducing nutrients and should be included in your regular diet:
Avocado is rich in B vitamins known to relieve stress and high in healthy fats as well as the mineral potassium, vital for keeping blood pressure low.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fats that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones and protect against depression, heart disease as well as premenstrual syndrome.
Eggs contain an essential amino acid, tryptophan, essential in creating serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps control mood and sleep.
Herbal teas especially chamomile and green tea may increase the production of serotonin and dopamine, both of which are known to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Yoghurt is a food rich in the essential mineral, zinc as well as probiotics, healthy bacteria that are known to improve mental health, help reduce anxiety and increase concentration.
Nuts are full of nutrients including zinc, Vitamin E and B-vitamins and are a good source of healthy fats that may protect against mood disorders, lower cholesterol and inflammation.
Green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and swiss chard, are high in folate, which is important in the synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of satisfaction, pleasure and calm.
Lean meat rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, helps produce serotonin, a chemical known to mood stabilise and promote feelings of happiness.
Blueberries are high in phytonutrients, vitamin C and other antioxidants such as flavonoids, known to improve your body's ability to respond to stress and anxiety.
Seeds are a great source of the mineral, magnesium, shown to help alleviate and regulate certain emotions such as irritability and depression. Seed-derived products such as eg. Flaxseed oil are also known to have many beneficial sources.
Consuming a well-balanced diet, high in stress-fighting nutrients, can positively benefit the stress response and reduce the harmful effects of stress on your body.
1. Singh, Karuna. (2016). Nutrients and Stress Management. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences. 6. 10.4172/2155-9600.1000528.