Written by Julie Germaine
How do you deal with unsettling situations? Long-term stress, in particular, takes a toll on one’s mental and physical health, so it is a good idea to develop coping mechanisms to relieve tension. Perhaps one you already resort to is comfort eating? If yes, don’t worry - you’re definitely not alone… but it’s likely that your food choices are actually compounding the negative impact of everyday stressors. Wouldn’t it be great to learn what foods alleviate stress?
When we get stressed, our bodies respond with the production of the hormone cortisol. This can unfortunately activate some physiologic consequences, such as increased body fat and reduced immune system response over time. High cortisol levels have an effect on the digestive system that can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance, and ultimately prompt stress-hormones to further sky-rocket.
Hocus-pocus! Just eat these foods and you’ll eliminate stress!
(I wish.) No, that’s not possible, but you can slow down the release of cortisol by incorporating some of the following items into your regular diet:
- Compounds found in green tea can keep the GI tract less permeable, inhibiting cortisol-producing enzymes.
- Vitamin-C rich berries, peppers, or kiwi support healthy adrenal glands and balance cortisol levels.
- Other fruits and vegetables that are high in potassium combat side effects of elevated stress-levels, including bananas, honeydew, apricots, raisins, spinach, and yams.
- Fermented foods that contain probiotic lactobacillus, such as yogurt, some cottage cheeses, sauerkraut, and tempeh, evoke the body to release oxytocin as a way to reduce stress.
If you have to operate under constant stress, you could become less effective at work, more irritable at home, and develop warning signs of serious health deterioration, including memory loss, sleeplessness, depression, weight gain, and more. Chronic stress plagues many of us in these challenging times, here are some tips to help:
- Equalize time spent between leisure and work.
- Move your body every day!
- Try cutting back on coffee and alcohol.
- Commit to getting adequate sleep.
- Start a new hobby or connect with friends who are chill and fun.
- Book a beach get-away or plan a staycation with your fav video game.
- Take your dog for more walks.
- Know when you need professional help and book time with a coach or therapist.