Food is an important and often overlooked piece of the puzzle to ensure our wellbeing. Importance of a healthy diet in managing your stress, anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder or even depression is immeasurable .
Prolonged periods of stress and mental exhaustion lead to our body responding by raised levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also affects production of leptin and ghrelin, hormones responsible for feelings of hunger and satiation – leading to cravinings of unhealthy “comfort” foods and compulsive overeating.
To help yourself to get through difficult times, the best course of action is to stick to a balanced diet. Making sure that you aren’t in a caloric deficit. Seemingly a good idea of cutting calories can actually make your anxiety worse and increase cortisol production.
Eliminating inflammatory ingredients like gluten, dairy, heavy processed foods and added sugar is necessary , as filling your diet with adequate stress-busting nutrients.
Here are the best foods to help manage and maintain hormone production, overall mood and help our body to withstand the effects of stress.
Excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Well known to lower risk of depression among other disorders like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Omega-3 can help reduce the anxiety symptoms and boost serotonin levels.
When we are stressed, our body burns vitamin C. Eating citrus fruits helps replenish this deficit. It also helps lower cortisol levels.If you are not a fan of lemons and orange juice – try incorporating some vegetables rich in vitamin C like bell peppers and cauliflower.
Excellent source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol that help to protect your cells from prolonged damage caused by stress. Various berries also high in vitamins C, K and A.
When sourced from healthy and grass-fed animals, red meat can be beneficial for your health. Grass-fed beef has a rich nutrient profile that includes iron, fatty acids and group B vitamins, all of which are important for eliminating and preventing mental exhaustion, burn out and other neurological symptoms.
Good source of zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral that your body doesn’t store so you should consume some every day. Low levels of zinc have been tied to anxiety disorders. Other nuts like walnuts and almonds are a good source of zinc too.
Dark chocolate is good for your mood. Raw cacao powder is full of antioxidants and calming magnesium that are well known to reduce effects of stress and many people are deficient in.
Cacao also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), a chemical that increases dopamine secretion in our bodies. Dopamine, like serotonin, is a neurotransmitter with slightly different functions. Dopamine plays a significant role in the prevention of Parkinsons, feelings of pleasure and reward, attentiveness, memory, motivation, and sleep.
When you are stressed, food cravings happen. To quell those stressed out cravings for carbs, oats are a healthy solution. They help you produce the feel-good hormone serotonin. They are also rich in fiber to help keep you full and blood sugar balanced.
Pasture-raised eggs are high in folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce depression, anxiety and panic. Eggs are also rich in Choline, a microelement used by our body to build cell membranes and has a significant role in improvement of brain functions.
Cutting off caffeine is another beneficial step in reducing stress and anxiety. It helps maintain a good sleeping pattern, which is crucial for our mental health. If you are struggling with insomnia , taking small steps such as not drinking alcohol at dinner,reducing screen time before bed, and getting enough water during the day is a good way to help your body to combat it.. Meditate regularly. Go outside and do some exercise.
You may also try to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months. Also keep your gut happy through probiotic foods and supplements.