Stress is something that is part and parcel of being human. In fact, it is essential for our survival. Nevertheless, it is also something that can have a negative impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, in our busy modern lives, it can often feel as though stress is a constant companion from which we cannot escape.
One area often overlooked when it comes to managing stress is the role that nutrition plays. The reality of the matter is that what we eat has a direct influence on stress levels. Furthermore, there are some foods that help us cope with stress better while others only exacerbate the problem. The following are just a few examples of this.
The Good: Foods that Help Reduce Stress
Complex carbohydrates are a great source of sustained energy that help regulate blood sugar levels. This helps to keep stress levels steady. Foods like whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables provide us with a steady supply of energy, keeping us going throughout the day.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be a fantastic brain food. These healthy fats have been shown to lower inflammation and even boost the production of serotonin, which is a feel-good chemical. Some excellent sources of Omega-3s are fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), walnuts, and flaxseeds.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps combat the effects of stress on our bodies. Foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, and bell peppers, can help reduce cortisol levels. This is the hormone responsible for stress.
Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays a key role in regulating stress response. Foods that contain magnesium, like spinach, almonds, and avocado, can help us relax and even improve sleep quality.
The Bad: Foods that Exacerbate Stress
While a morning cup of joe might seem a necessity for a great many of us, consuming too much of it can actually increase stress levels due to the caffeine it contains. Excessive caffeine intake can result in increased cortisol production, anxiety, and insomnia. Moderation is very definitely the key when it comes to consuming caffeine.
Sugary foods like candy, pastries, and soda might provide a temporary energy boost, but they can also lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels shortly after. This can result in irritability and fatigue, which makes it more difficult for us to cope with stress.
Many people deal with stress by drinking alcohol. However, as alcohol is a depressant it can make you feel worse in the long run. While it might provide temporary relief, excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate stress levels over the course of time.
Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives, all of which can contribute to increased inflammation and stress in our body. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods is a smarter choice all the way around for managing stress.
Alternative Therapies: Sound Therapy and Stress Reduction
According to Maloca Sound, in addition to nutrition there are other methods to help manage stress. Sound therapy, for example, is an alternative approach that uses soothing music or nature sounds to promote relaxation and alleviate stress. This can be a valuable addition to one’s stress management toolkit; it can help you unwind and create a calming environment.
To conclude then, the impact of nutrition on stress cannot be overstated. Incorporating stress-reducing foods into our diet and avoiding those that exacerbate stress helps us better manage stress levels and improve overall well-being.