Can Food Really Help You Recover From Stress?

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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

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.

Wild salmon

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.

Sunflower seeds

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.

Do Stress. One Day Event. London. Oct 14th.

The Do Lectures is holding a one-day event called ‘Do Stress’. It will deliver insights, future strategies, and will examine the zeitgiest for ‘human based companies’ and how ‘work’ is going to change. And what that means for your business?

There will be 10 talks from entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, change-makers and visionaries. As Dan Pink reminds us all: “Talented people need organisations less than organisations need talented people”.

That is why smart companies are creating human cultures, not corporate ones in order to thrive. How you stay ahead in the future is not the same as what kept you ahead in the past.

Why attend?

It answers the question of who leads the way in look after their people, what are they doing, why is it working? How does culture help your business? How does your purpose? How does the design of your office? Even, how you sit at a computer?

How does a human culture prevent burn out? How does it help you win the talent war? And how, just as importantly, does it help you retain your people too. What perks are the most important?

The good news is companies who look after their people are also the best businesses over the long term. Human based companies are the future. So how do you become one? Our one day event is designed to give you the answers.

The One Day Event — Do Stress

10 speakers.

2 workshops.

200 attendees.

For more information, or to register your interest, head over to our website.

If you haven’t already, check out ‘The Stress Report’, 134 pages. A modern blueprint for a better way of working and living. £12. Out now.

Other Articles You May Find Of Interest re Stress?

Why Coffee Shops Boost Creativity.

How Three Short Months Can Change Your Life.

Can Food Really Help You Recover From Stress?

Useful Resources On Stress (Or How Smart Companies Look After Their People).

Can Stress Ever Be Considered A Positive?

Beyond Work: How Does Stress Affect The Modern Working Life?

How Can Stress Give You The Edge?

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