Are There any Foods That can Help Reduce Stress?
A Most of us deal with degrees of stress on a daily basis, and they can take a toll on the body in different ways. For some, it might cause a loss of appetite, but for many, it can have the opposite effect and increase hunger, mainly due to a surge in cortisol—aka the stress hormone—alerting the body it needs energy to “fight or flight,” whether you’re hungry or not.
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Research has shown that stress and the influx of cortisol can heighten cravings for sugary, high-fat and salty foods, like soda, candy, alcohol, ice cream, chips, pretzels or creamy pastas and fried foods, all of which cause blood sugar to rise even more. And while these foods may seem like a source of comfort, they might actually cause you more harm than relief.
Cortisol also inhibits insulin production, whose role is to clear glucose from the blood. Prolonged high levels of cortisol essentially leave you insulin resistant, which over time, can lead to weight gain, an increased risk of developing diabetes and other major health repercussions affecting your breathing, heart, sleep, and immune and digestive systems.
The good news: There are many healthy options to munch on that naturally act as mood stabilizers. Stock your fridge and pantry with foods like asparagus, avocados, kale, berries, low-fat milk, eggs, cashews, oatmeal, quinoa, lean turkey and wild salmon, which are loaded with B vitamins, vitamins C, D and E, zinc and magnesium, not to mention high-quality protein, carbohydrates and omega-3 fats.
Although chocolate falls into the high-fat/ sugar group, a small amount of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, can actually have a calming effect, plus help lower your blood pressure. And an occasional cup of caffeinated coffee might help improve your mood and concentration, too. Or better yet, sip soothing, flavonoid-rich chamomile tea for a relaxing midday break.
Blow off steam with regular exercise that will raise endorphin levels and brighten your spirits. Get plenty of sleep, and most importantly, maintain a balanced diet throughout the day to keep your hormones and blood sugar in check. Avoiding stress may not always be possible, but practicing stress management and relaxation techniques may deter you from reaching for the nearest doughnut.
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