Stress takes a toll on your body. It weakens your immune system, strains your heart, dampens your sex drive, creates aches and pains, and can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body can only work with what you feed it, so if you consume junk, you're going to feel junky in return. Filling your body with the right foods can help keep your mood light and the stress rolling off your back.
First, you need to know which foods to avoid. These foods increase stress and anxiety by either stimulating the brain the wrong way or putting the body under stress during the digestion process. Foods to avoid include:
- Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and other caffeinated drinks
- Fried foods
- Foods high in polysaturated fats found in processed foods
Now that you know what to avoid, let's get down to what you'll be packing in your lunch for work tomorrow.
1. Lean Beef
The B vitamins, zinc, and iron lean beef contains will help settle you down. The omega-3 fatty acids found especially in grass-fed beef are an important part in brain and heart health.
2. Freshwater Fish
Fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and B12. These essential nutrients promote healthy brain function and elevate your mood -- two important aspects of fighting stress.
There's a reason you feel so relaxed after eating turkey. The acid known as L-tryptophan is releasing serotonin, a chemical that calms your brain.
Perfect on tacos, great with eggs, and awesome with everything else, avocados pack a substantial amount of omega-3s. They also contain potassium, which helps lower blood pressure that can spike with stress.
5. Whole Grains
Carbohydrates help brain function. They boost levels of serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the brain. Whole grains provide longer-lasting energy than processed flours.
6. Almonds & Sunflower Seeds
These easy-to-find crunchy guys can cut through stress like a ninja. They contain riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and other important vitamins and minerals. Snacking on seeds and nuts throughout the day can prevent stress from building up. To maximize nutrition benefits, opt for raw over roasted.
7. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Greens carry lots of B vitamins, including folic acid, which is important for easing symptoms of depression, relieving stress, and reducing anxiety. Look for kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard.
Fruits like blueberries, oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, papaya, and raspberries contain vitamin C and other vital nutrients that help beat the effects of stress. They also help fight off free radicals, which can lead to certain cancers.
The more you incorporate these ingredients into your diet, the more equipped your body will be to handle the stress in your life.