When it comes to stress relief, many people are aware of the widely known methods of stress reduction – yoga, massage therapy, exercise, and meditation. What often goes unrecognized is the relationship between our stress levels and our diets. What you eat can make you feel anxiety and fatigue, or it can eliminate toxins and provide nourishment that helps your body adapt.
How Food Relieves Stress
Comfort foods don’t just make you think of fuzzy slippers and your grandmother’s kitchen, some of them impact brain chemistry, raising serotonin levels in your brain. Other foods reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline or stabilize blood sugar for clearer thinking. Healthy eating overall improves your immune system and maintains an emotional balance.
There’s a reason you crave carbs when you’re stressed. When you ingest them, your body makes serotonin, a calming hormone. In recent years, carbs have gotten a bad reputation, but not all of them are bad. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread, oatmeal, and whole grain pasta help you stay full longer and balance blood sugar. Limit your intake of refined flours and sugars, since their feel-good spike quickly goes away.
Walk right past that fast food option and choose something deep green and fresh. Vegetables such as spinach are rich in folate, which stimulates the brain to produce dopamine, another chemical that makes you feel calm and happy. Leafy greens also contain magnesium, a mineral that fights headaches and fatigue. If salads aren’t your thing, try green vegetables cooked with salmon or chicken.
Stress impacts your digestive system. When life gets out of balance, you might find yourself having stomach aches or abdominal discomfort that make things even more challenging. Research indicates stress causes gastrointestinal inflammation that causes the bacteria in your gut to become unbalanced. Your body becomes less able to absorb key nutrients, process what you eat, and eliminate toxins. Consuming the probiotics in yogurt helps restore that balance. It also may reduce brain activity in parts of the brain that process anxiety.
If chocolate is one of your favorite indulgences, you can feed your craving and improve your mental health at the same time. Dark chocolate lowers stress hormones by reducing cortisol. It also contains antioxidants that relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Choose varieties made of at least 70 percent cocoa.
One of the best ways to reduce stress and improve overall health is through floatation therapy. Contact Northwest Float Center to find out more.