When our body is under stress, it demands more nutrition, as it utilizes all existing nutrients in order to prepare the body for a fight or flight response. It is very important to eat the right diet which can supply us with Vitamins A, C, E and D as well as magnesium and selenium that ease stress and relax the body and mind. Many foods are known to have anti-stress properties which can safeguard us against stress, anxiety and depression. So let us consider top superfoods to fight stress:
1. Fatty fish
Salmon, herring and mackerel along with other sea food are the best superfoods to relieve anxiety and stress owing to their high Omega 3 essential fatty acid content. Eat at least one serving of fatty fish per day to calm you down.
2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts like almonds are rich in Vitamin E and proteins and can also help you fight brain fatigue. Eating a handful of almonds before exam helps calm the body and mind, reduces stress and increases the brain’s ability to recollect stuff. Nuts like walnuts are packed with Omega 3 and seeds like pumpkin seeds are full of magnesium (discussed below).
3. Foods rich in magnesium
Magnesium rich foods can be easily considered as best foods that reduce stress hormones. So eat plenty of magnesium rich foods like whole-meal breads, spinach, chard, yogurt, kefir, nuts and seeds etc.
4. Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C is one of the main nutrients that our body uses up when we are stressed out. So you need to take 1000 mg of vitamin C daily to combat stress. Also eat vitamin C rich foods like peppers, citrusy fruits and vegetables, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts etc.
5. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are extremely rich in bio-flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants. The body uses up these antioxidants to combat the free radicals that are byproducts of elevated cortisol hormone. So eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables to relieve anxiety and depression, including cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Most of us turn to unhealthy snacks like chips and cookies when we are feeling low or stressed out. Instead, it is important to consume more fruits which are rich in vitamin C such as grapefruits, oranges, tangerines along with other seasonal varieties. Often, stressed out people end up gaining weight since there is a link between elevated cortisol levels and increased abdominal fat. To avoid weight gain and obesity, it is essential to snack on fruits like bananas, figs, etc which are low in calories but also rich in nutrients.
Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, miso etc are rich in good bacteria and assist the digestive tract to indirectly relieve stress. People with anxiety disorders should consume these foods to calm nerves.
8. B complex-rich foods
People deficient in B vitamins are often irritable.B complex deficiency is also linked to anxiety and depression. Lean meat, eggs, milk and milk products like cheese are some examples of foods rich in B vitamins that can reduce stress hormones.
9. Green tea
When you are a bundle of nerves, green tea is the best food to calm you down. So drink several cups of green tea when you are anxious and stressed out.
10. Dark chocolate
There is a reason why women like to eat dark chocolate before their menstrual periods. Dark chocolate with more than 60% cocoa is very rich in antioxidants and can safeguard you against anxiety. So eat a piece of two of dark chocolate to reduce stress and cortisol levels.
11. Calming herbs to reduce stress
Some of the best foods for instant stress relief include herbs like lavender, chamomile, peppermint and holy basil. You can make a tea from these herbs and drink a cup or two daily. Chamomile tea is best before bed time as it calms frayed nerves and helps you sleep better.
Simply eating foods that calm nerves is not enough; you also need to limit intake of foods that cause stress. Many stimulating foods like caffeine and alcohol are known to produce a temporary high followed by a crash or a low. So stay away from these or at least limit their intake. Next time you are feeling stressed out or having too many thoughts, watch your diet and heal your body and mind with the aforementioned foods to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.