Modern living is, as we all know, stressful to say the least. On top of handling our day to day routine which for many includes a full time job, children and household chores, we also thrive on performance, competition and perfection. The constant connection through technology allows us to take in more information than ever before but also gives us less time to mentally recharge and have a healthy work-life balance. Besides exercising and taking mental breaks that allow your mind to reset, you can also stabilize your body and manage stress levels by choosing the right foods. Please see below for some of our healthiest favorites.
Green Leafy Vegetables such as Kale, spinach and swiss chard are rich in folate, antioxidants and bioactive nutrients such as vitamins C, E and K. They also contain high levels of beta carotene, lutein, nitrate, pholyphenols and kaempferol which supports brain functioning and also helps us maintain a healthy blood pressure, immune system and stabilizes mood. Dark, leafy greens are in addition rich in magnesium, a mineral that is known for providing mental and physical relaxation. Green leafy vegetables are furthermore a great source of fiber which can help reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, are not only delicious but also filled with nutritional value. They contain vitamin B that help support adrenal health and the stress response, as well as magnesium and healthy fatty acids.
Avocados are delicious and a great way to incorporate healthy fats to your diet. They are rich in vitamin B as well as healthy omega-3 fatty acids that assist your body in reducing inflammation, anxiety and stress.
Deep, cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines are all a powerhouse of nutrition. They contain high levels of protein and are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA which has a variety of health benefits. Studies have shown that DHA improves brain health and can help reduce psychological stress.
Citrus fruit and strawberries both contain high levels of vitamin C, the antioxidant that is known to reduce both anxiety and stress. On an average 7 strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange and by consuming grapefruit, oranges and strawberries you can assist in keeping physical and psychological effects of stress at bay.
High Quality Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that when consumed in small portions (1 oz. per day) can have a positive impact on your health. Dark chocolate is a stress-buster that is filled with antioxidants that are beneficial for stabilizing your mood and keeping your stress-hormones in check and, as an added bonus, it can also directly increase your endorphin levels. Always look for high-quality dark chocolate with little to no added sugar or chemicals.
Many herbal teas are great for providing relaxation and decreasing stress levels. Chamomile is one of the most commonly known herbs that is not only delicious and mellow-flavored but also effective in calming the nervous system, hence the bedtime choice for many. Lavender is another favorite that has a calming and soothing effect on the body. It has a distinctive earthy flavor with notes of mint, rosemary, green apple and rose.
Experiencing stress cannot always be avoided but by adding the above stress-busters you can give your body the tools it needs to naturally counteract some of the stress factors of modern life. By eating right and exercising you too can reintroduce balance into your life.