8 Foods to Reduce Stress and Nourish Your Body
Stress. It’s unavoidable, yet it can cause so many problems for health. Stress can negatively impact our sleep, mood, diet, energy levels, hormones, and so much more. Managing stress is essential for whole health and well-being. If it sounds easier said than done, one of the best ways to manage stress is to eat a diet that supports your body’s natural functions. When you do, your whole body will be better off for it – and you’ll have more control over stress.
The role of cortisol
Cortisol is one of the hormones released from the adrenal glands when you are stressed. This hormone is needed to manage your “flight-or-fight” instinct. It also delivers the energy you need to respond to stress. This is why it is known as the “stress hormone.”
Unfortunately, chronically high cortisol levels can trigger many issues in the body, including an increase in sugar cravings, skin problems, sleep disruptions – and it can hinder your body’s ability to use different nutrients properly. Managing stress is key to keeping this hormone in balance, and one way you can do that is by eating healthy and nourishing stress-reducing foods.
What foods reduce and relieve stress?
What you eat plays a big role in stress management – and one of the most nutritious guidelines to follow for stress is eating foods from the Mediterranean diet.
1. Fatty fish
Studies have shown a link between foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and stress reduction. The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, oysters, and anchovies. Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include avocados, flaxseeds, and olive oil. Another benefit? Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health.
2. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate can be stress relieving in a couple of ways. First, it provides the emotional boost eating chocolate naturally inspires. Second, it is rich in antioxidants that help scavenge cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Make sure to indulge in this treat in moderation to avoid unnecessary sugar.
3. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are high in one of the most important nutrients available: Vitamin C. Vitamin C is mostly known for supporting immune health, bone health, and skin health. However, some studies have shown that high levels of Vitamin C may reduce stress levels. An added benefit of getting Vitamin C is that you’re also supporting collagen production. Strawberries are also very high in Vitamin C.
4. Protein-rich foods
Protein is essential to keep blood sugar balanced and helps slow digestion. This is important because during stressful times, adrenaline can pump more sugar into the body for energy. Chicken, eggs, almonds, turkey, and quinoa are all good sources of protein. Another great source of protein is a protein powder you can easily pop into a smoothie.
5. Vitamin B-rich foods
The B-complex family of foods has been linked to stress reduction and management. Vitamin B-12 is especially known for its ability to reduce stress by promoting nervous system health. It also plays a role in reducing the impact of cortisol. Foods rich in B-vitamins include fortified whole grains, beef, and eggs. A vegan source of B-vitamins is nutritional yeast, which you can sprinkle on all sorts of foods from popcorn to soup! Nutritional yeast has a natural cheese-like taste.
6. Magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium supports nerve health and relaxation. It’s also involved in metabolizing cortisol. metabolizing cortisol. Foods high in magnesium include bananas, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, broccoli, avocados, almonds, and cashews. Teami Restore De-Stress Powder is also formulated with magnesium to help you unwind and is easy to mix into a glass of water.
7. Herbal tea
Like chocolate, it’s the feeling tea invokes that helps reduce stress. A cup of tea is warming and naturally soothing, increasing calm feelings. Plus, research experiments suggest that simply holding onto and sipping a warm drink on its own improves feelings of friendliness and warmth. In addition, calming herbs such as lavender and chamomile can impart these same feelings on their own. Even tea that contains caffeine – such as green tea – can help because it contains beneficial flavonoids. Flavonoids support cognitive function and help protect neurons.
Teami Relax Tea is the perfect blend to help you wind down. It contains three calming nutrients for stress support:
- Lavender flower to relax the nervous system and alleviate stress
- Chamomile is another calming herb that also supports digestion
- Valerian root is a known calming and sleep aid
Serotonin is known as the “happy hormone” because it plays a role in our mood and happiness. And according to the American Psychological Association, “gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body's supply of serotonin.” It’s easy to see why a healthy gut microbiome is a key to reducing stress.
Eating prebiotic and probiotic foods can help keep your gut balanced. High fiber foods and fermented foods such as whole grains, beans, raspberries, apples, kombucha, sauerkraut, and yogurt are all excellent sources of prebiotics and probiotics.
For extra support, you can add a scoop of Teami Gut Love to your water or smoothie! Each serving contains seven different strains and 20 billion probiotics.
Foods to avoid
Some foods can create more stress in the body and actually raise cortisol levels. This list of food and drinks that create stress isn’t surprising.
- Caffeine is a stimulant – some can be useful for focus, but too much caffeine can create stress
- Alcohol acts as a depressant and triggers the release of more cortisol
- Sugary foods suppress your body’s ability to deal with stress
- Refined, simple carbohydrates can cause adrenaline spikes that create stress – choose complex carbohydrates instead
The golden rule
To reduce stress and nourish your body, eat on a regular schedule and avoid skipping meals. This helps you stay satiated and helps balance blood sugar levels. In turn, this supports optimal cortisol levels. What you eat is just as important. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates is well-balanced and can help you mitigate stress when you need it most.
Adi Arezzini | @adiarezzini
Co-Founder + CEO, Teami Blends
Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach
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