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What to Eat When You are Stressed?

Updated: Jan 2

The effect of stress on our body

Stress or anxiety is a distressing feeling resulting from an imbalance of the body due to environmental, mental, or physical stimulation.

These stimulations can be in our heads or real and actually cause a threat to our physical or mental integrity.

Whether it is imagined stress or real stress, the situation may cause symptoms that affect various body systems and cause severe symptoms such as hypertension, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or an inflammatory flare-up of Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. On the other hand, it may stimulate the nervous system and cause mental symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, or depression.

During stress, our body releases hormones from the pituitary gland (ADH) and the adrenal gland (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisone). The purpose of these hormones is to help the body protect itself from danger (supplying energy to the muscles, increasing blood flow, increasing the heart rate, storing fluids, stopping the activity of the digestive system, and more).

However, continuous stress causes a chronic secretion of these hormones which ultimately leads to negative and harmful consequences(for example, an excess of cortisol can create ulcers in the stomach and accelerate sclerotic processes in the blood vessels).

In addition, continuous stress can cause deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals and hyper oxidation.

Stress and nutrition

When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – big meals, takeaways, fatty foods, foods rich in sugar, and alcohol.

Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in food when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something.

However, this isn’t a good permanent solution. When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel run down. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, less vital, and less productive.

All of this can lead to even more stress. If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety.

So what do you need to eat when you are stressed? A healthy and balanced diet, rich in essential substances and nutrients can greatly affect the health and functioning of the brain and the nervous system, but in order for these nutrients to reach our brain, our digestive system needs to absorb them and get rid of the harmful ingredients that may cause damage to the nervous system. So we can't actually deal effectively with stress unless our digestive system functions properly!

One of the best ways to relieve the stress in our life is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet that includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.

Foods that may help us deal better with stress

Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calmness.

Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind– all of which can help you to better deal with stress.

Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you're feeling. Drinking liquids that are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks, or sugary drinks, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly.

Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural relaxant and bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.

Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit that can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings, and dips, or in a smoothie. This nutrient-dense fruit has the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to its high glutathione content, a powerful antioxidant that specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain high levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene, which enhances their stress-busting properties.

Oatmeal – Besides being a great filling and comforting food, oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate, which causes our brain to produce higher levels of serotonin - a chemical that promotes a good and relaxing feeling. Studies have shown that children who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper during the school morning compared to children who eat alternative breakfasts.

Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.

Nuts and almonds - Foods that are rich in omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for the integrity and normality of our body cells and for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Also, they reduce the production of inflammatory hormones and increase the production of anti-inflammatory hormones, and as a result strengthen the activity of the immune system.

It is important to note that nuts, almonds, and seeds should be consumed in their natural form (without roasting) because their roasting causes oxidation and destruction of essential substances.

In conclusion

If you feel more stressed than usual, it is important that you know which foods are better for you to choose and which ones you should avoid. Stressful situations may cause an increased utilization of nutrients, therefore, the best way to deal with them and prevent future damage is a healthy and balanced diet that includes all nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals, and adequate amounts of B vitamins and essential fatty acids.

stress and gut health


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