Combat stress with nutrition is possible. The theme is complex, but the objective of this article is to give you the message that, if you feel stressed or stressed, like many other people, you can decide to be less stressed by choosing to feed yourself in the right way, without giving up the pleasure of food.
What is stress?
Stress is a normal physiological response to external factors that generate concern. Factors that generate stress are tasks of an emotional, cognitive or social nature, which the person perceives as excessive.
In itself, stress is not harmful; rather it has the function of restoring balance in a short time.
The problem arises when we are continually subjected to the causes of the stress condition. In this case, the discomfort is constant or prolonged and can cause other types of disorders or diseases.
Another factor to be known is that in stressful situations, the organism circulates cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland on impulse of the brain. At times of greatest tension, it causes the increase of blood sugar and fat in the blood, making available the energy the body needs.
Two other hormones are then released together with cortisol: adrenaline and noradrenaline. The combination of these three elements increases blood pressure to improve physical performance and alertness.
When the stress situation has passed, the body returns to balance: muscle tone, breath, heart rate and blood pressure decrease and the body relaxes.
How to combat stress
To reduce stress in the impossibility of acting on the causes, we can intervene at different levels in order to change our reaction to them. On a mental level, one can intervene with relaxation or meditation techniques and with outdoor physical activity. But many do not know that nutrition can play a decisive role.
When I say power, I refer both to the choice of food and to habits related to the act of eating. Let’s start with the latter, but keep in mind that it is advisable not to impose restrictive regimes that would almost certainly not be respected, causing frustration and a sense of failure. The recommended approach is to pursue a balanced diet.
Combat stress: How to eat
To mitigate reactions to stressful events, talking about food style, it is appropriate to focus on some aspects …
- Keep a regularity in meal times, as far as possible
- Although it is not advisable to skip meals, avoid eating if you are very tense or angry
- Avoid eating by discussing or otherwise in environments that can cause further stress
- In the evening, finish the dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed.
- Eat and chew slowly, savoring the food
Combat stress: What not to eat
To combat stress with nutrition it is also important to avoid both certain habits and certain categories of foods that can lead to the intensification of stress symptoms.
The habits to avoid
- Make heavy meals that can burden your digestion.
- Take sweets, both at the end of a meal and as a hunger break.
- Make meals too rich in carbohydrates (pasta, bread, pizza, potatoes, sweet dessert)
The foods to avoid
- Coffee, tea, energy drinks. Caffeine, in addition to stimulating the nervous system, can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart beats.
- Simple sugars (all types of desserts and sweets, soft drinks, packaged fruit juices) and refined carbohydrates (white bread, craker, breadsticks, biscuits, white pasta …). The blood sugar level, in fact, significantly influences the workload of the adrenal glands . As a result there is an overload of the work of the kidneys and difficulty in the production of hormones that regulate the level of sugar in the blood.
- Alcoholic beverages: they are rich in sugars and can cause sleep disorders, and effects on the cardiovascular system.
- It is also better to avoid additives in general,
The foods to be preferred as anti-stress
Among the anti-stress foods that we will also talk about in new articles, I point out some with the characteristic of containing the main micro-nutrients useful to counteract stress. I am talking about minerals like selenium and zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega 3 fats.
- Avocado, recommended for its high content of B vitamins, particularly B1 and B2. They help you relax and fight stress. Avocado also contains vitamin E, antioxidant, beta-carotene, good Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats, and minerals including potassium.
- Fruit and oil seeds: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds: they contain minerals including magnesium, and B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidant and strengthening of the immune system.
- Brown rice and other foods rich in tryptophan, a molecule that helps to increase the levels of melatonin and serotonin, also called anti-stress hormones.
- Whole grain oats: this cereal has excellent nutritional properties. It is rich in proteins, has a low glycemic index, also contains substance with relaxing properties. Oats also contain tryptophan.
- Cruciferae (broccoli, black cabbage, red cabbage …), asparagus, dark green leafy vegetables: they contain substances that counteract oxidative stress and improve the performance of our mind.
- Fish, such as salmon: omega-3 fats help reduce stress levels, and counteract declines in mood.
- Turkey: if you eat meat, turkey meat contains some substances that stimulate the production of serotonin.
- Fresh fruit: without exceeding, it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and other antioxidant substances that counteract oxidative stress.
- Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or more: stimulates the production of serotonin.