There is no magic food that will prevent the effects of stress — but there are some that will help repair your body and keep your system in good general order, so that you’re ready to fight another day. Nutritionist Jo Lewin gave us her top six.
Herbal teas can help to calm you down. Whereas coffee has the opposite effect, putting more pressure on your body’s stress response mechanisms, chamomile can aid sleep and has a relaxing effect. Tulsi (Holy Basil) is a member of a group of herbs called adaptogens that may help reduce the production of stress hormones. Reap the benefits by brewing a pot of decaffeinated herbal tea.
The frequent release of adrenaline and cortisol produced in response to stress can decrease levels of magnesium. This can become a vicious cycle as low levels of magnesium confound anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression. Increase your magnesium stores by eating dark green leafy vegetables like spinach.
Research shows that oily fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit inflammation and effectively lower cortisol levels. Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fats, alongside mackerel, haddock and sardines. Non-fish sources include flaxseeds and walnuts.
The humble egg
Include protein rich foods high in the amino acid tryptophan. Mixing foods high in tryptophan with carbohydrates, promotes the synthesis of serotonin — the neurotransmitter that helps us feel good. Your best chance of a natural serotonin boost is to eat tryptophan rich foods such as eggs, turkey and cottage cheese with a serving of complex carbohydrates such as rice, oats or wholegrain bread.
Excess cortisol depletes B vitamins, so it’s important to make sure the diet is full of these powerful nutrients. Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5) in particular helps to activate the adrenal glands to modulate the stress response, while other B vitamins are critical for the entire adrenal cascade, blood sugar control and in helping the body convert food into energy. When choosing breads, pasta and crackers, look for wholegrains (often thicker, chewier and heartier).
Jo Lewin is a Nutritionist for Harvest Brighton, and writes regularly for BBC GoodFood.
Follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo
This is the eleventh post in an eight-week series of articles all about stress and how to make it work for you and your business.
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