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Feeling Stressed? Try Eating These Foods

Feeling Stressed? Try Eating These Foods

The past couple of months have stirred up plenty of emotions across the country - stress, anxiety and anger, to name a few. A therapist in Washington DC has coined the term “Election Stress Disorder” to diagnose his overly anxious, stressed and fearful patients. This disorder is expressed by irritability and resentment to cover up anxiety and a sense of powerlessness. Add to that the stress that comes with preparing for the holidays, and you may be looking for some ways to reduce the stress you feel in a day.

Stress is defined as an internal or external mental, physical or emotional factor that causes physical or mental tension. Anxiety, often following stressful situations, is the fear or nervousness, about what might happen. Symptoms include, fatigue, restlessness, sweating, irritability, abnormal heartbeat and concentration problems. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced from cholesterol in the adrenal gland that is released during exercise, waking in the morning and during times of acute stress. Over time, excess stress and anxiety can lead to short term skin issues, weight gain, and gastrointestinal issues and long term depression, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension and suppressed immune system.

You should seek medical attention for serious anxiety and depression. However, for those of us feeling increased anxiety because of current events or just the usual day-to-day stress in our lives, there may be ways to add a little more relaxation to you day.  Start by doing the things that can help you relax like taking a walk, meditating, listening to music, sweating it out or spending time with loved ones. One expert advises that cooling off may help...placing an ice pack or cold rag over your forehead or eyes tells your brain to slow down, which slows down your body chemistry and reabsorbs stress hormones into your blood stream.

Chef Jose Andres said, “I realized very early the power of food to evoke memory, to bring people together, to transport you to other places, and I wanted to be a part of that.”  Because food and nutrition are our specialties we wanted to share some foods that may help decrease your stress levels:

  • Chamomile tea can help you wind down, perhaps because of the L-theanine it contains, which may increase dopamine levels in the brain and decrease blood pressure
  • Omega 3 fatty acids from walnuts, flax seeds, salmon and tuna support brain health and my help stabilize cortisol levels in the body
  • B-vitamins from bananas, seeds, grass-fed beef and eggs may improve communication between nerve cells, the ability to concentrate, and help balance mood
  • Prebiotics from fruits and vegetables and probiotics from fermented foods like kimchi, miso, kefir and yogurt, support gut-health and may help to lower cortisol levels
  • Magnesium-rich foods, like greens, nuts and fish, help produce serotonin, the happy chemical in your brain 
  • Vitamin D from the sun, irradiated mushrooms and canned salmon also help produce serotonin and regulate mood

And lastly, it would also be a good idea to go easy on caffeine and sweets when you feel the most stressed, especially if you know they make you more jittery.

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