“Many people think a calorie is a calorie, but this study suggests that two women who eat the same thing could have different metabolic responses based on their level of stress.
There appears to be a stress pathway that works through diet – for example, it could be similar to what we see in animals, where fat cells grow faster in response to junk food when the body is chronically stressed.”
At the same time, junk foods will only give you a moment of reprieve. After the initial pleasure wears off, you may find yourself battling mood swings, irritability, and other unpleasant emotions on top of the stress, courtesy of the sugar, trans fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and whatever other synthetic ingredients you may have consumed.
On the other hand, by choosing healthy foods you can actually impact your mood on a positive note, helping to relieve tension, stabilize blood sugar, and send your stress packing.
10 Best FooDs to eAt foR relieving stReSS
Green Leafy vegetables
One 2012 study found people who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression than those who ate the least.
Dr. Tamlin Conner a Researcher from the University of Otago in the Department of Psychology said:
“On days when people ate more vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier, and more energetic than they normally did.”
Organic Turkey breast
Good source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin. Research shows that argumentative people who consumed tryptophan become markedly more pleasant, with researchers noting:
“Tryptophan significantly decreased quarrelsome behaviors and increased agreeable behaviors and perceptions of agreeableness.”
The secret to improving your mental health is in your gut, as unhealthy gut flora can have a detrimental impact your brain health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression. Beneficial bacteria have a direct effect on brain chemistry, transmitting mood- and behavior-regulating signals to your brain via your vagus nerve.
For instance, the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus was found to have a marked effect on GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behaviour.
Women who regularly ate yogurt containing beneficial bacteria had improved brain function compared to those who did not consume probiotics. Specifically, they had decreased activity in two brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation:
- The insular cortex (insula), which plays a role in functions typically linked to emotion (including perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience) and the regulation of your body’s homeostasis
- The somatosensory cortex, which plays a role in your body’s ability to interpret a wide variety of sensations
The fact that this study showed any improvement at all is remarkable, considering they used commercial yogurt preparations that are notoriously unhealthy — loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavorings, and sugar. Most importantly, the vast majority of commercial yogurts have clinically insignificant levels of beneficial bacteria.
Clearly, you would be far better off making your own yogurt from raw milk or eating other fermented foods, like fermented vegetables, to support your gut health and mood.
As explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor with a postgraduate degree in Neurology, toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause symptoms of poor mood, autism, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, and a whole host of other mental and behavioral disorders.
With this in mind, it should be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora (by eating fermented foods and avoiding processed foods and sugar) is extremely important to support a positive mood.
Wild Caught Salmon
Salmon, Sardines, and Anchovies contain animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA play a role in a persons emotional well-being.
One study in Brain Behavior and Immunity showed a dramatic 20 percent reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3,while past research has shown omega-3 fats work just as well as antidepressant in preventing the signs of depression, but without any of the side effects.
Anthocyanin’s are antioxidants that aid your brain in the production of dopamine, a chemical that is critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood.
“Research has also shown that blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells, ‘a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress,’ says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.”
Study has showed that lowered vascular constriction during stress, which means the load on your heart is reduced since your arteries are more dilated. Not to mention, you might find the rhythmic act of shelling pistachios therapeutic, as doing a repetitive activity can help quiet racing thoughts in your head. Always consume organic Pistachios and avoid those that are dyed, bleached, or show signs of decay.
If youre one of these individuals that get a nice mood boost after a big bite of chocolate then there’s a chemical reason that you should know behind it and its called anandamide. Its a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression.
Chocolate has even been referred to as “the new anti-anxiety drug.” On a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology also revealed that drinking an antioxidant-rich chocolate drink equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily felt calmer than those who did not.
Its not technically a food, but a daily dose of sunshine might help stabilize your mood. Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.
While you can get some vitamin D in foods like salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms the best way is directly from the sun.
Magnesium, which acts as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin, is well-known for its role in helping to regulate your emotions and enhance well-being. Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor, has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. The latest edition of her book, The magnesium miracle, details 22 medical areas that magnesium deficiency triggers, including anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
Seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard can be excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds.Avocado
Last but not least Avocados.A study showed that those who ate half an avocado with their standard lunch reported being 40 percent less hungry three hours after their meal, and 28 percent less hungry at the five-hour mark compared to those who did not eat avocado for lunch. The study also found that avocados appear helpful for regulating blood sugar levels. This combination of satiety and blood-sugar regulation can help keep your mood steady, even in times of stress.
THINGS TO AVOID
- Processed foods