Stress can directly wreak havoc on the body, and lead to more serious health problems. Making healthy food choices can be challenging when we become too busy, or overwhelmed – especially during holiday season. A healthy, balanced diet can help to reduce the effects of stress on the body by strengthening the immune system, stabilizing moods, and reducing blood pressure. Instead of reaching for foods loaded with sugars and starch, consider these healthier options:
Vitamin C: oranges and other citrus fruits can reduce stress and boost the immune system, help lower the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
Complex Carbohydrates: whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can increase serotonin production in the brain and stabilize blood pressure.
Magnesium: spinach or other leafy greens, salmon, and soybeans can help ease headaches and fatigue. Oral magnesium can relieve premenstrual mood changes and has been found to improve sleep quality in older adults.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: salmon, nuts and seeds (especially walnuts, flaxseeds, pistachios, and almonds) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and are natural balancers of stress hormones and can protect against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
Healthy Comfort Foods Options
Dark Chocolate: pure cocoa without additives can improve cognitive function and mood.
Oatmeal: reduces levels of stress hormones and can boost serotonin, creating a calmness that offers a comfort to the nervous system.
Chamomile has a wide range of healing properties, relieves stress, insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders.
Mint benefits the gastrointestinal (GI) tissue and has analgesic and anesthetic effects however one must be cautious with peppermint oil as it can irritate the GI.
Barley tea contains tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for sleep and synthesizing serotonin – a neurotransmitter essential in the regulation of sleep and mood.
Passionflower can help with sleep disorders, nervous tension, and anxiety.
Valerian root can be used for a short time period of less than one month to help calm the nervous system.
Consult with a health practitioner to design an individualized and holistic health plan that works best for you.