When people think of stress, they think mostly of work and deadlines. But there are so many other forms of stress that are impacting your health. And one of the biggest ones comes from the FOOD that you’re putting into your body.
The foods you eat can affect your hormonal balance and create inflammation in your gut, all of which can stress out your body.
Generally, when your body experiences any type of stress, its primary focus becomes controlling that stress. Your body will secrete more cortisol and adrenaline, which tells your system to “restock on the energy supply” even if it’s not really depleted. As a result, it makes you hungry and encourages fat storage. Yikes! (This is why I say, “stress can make you fat!”) Note: everyone is different and people respond differently to stress, but this is what most commonly happens.
And certain foods in particular contribute to stress on your body, while others help alleviate it.
What are the key foods that creates stress?
Coffee, alcohol, sugar, and generally, all heavily processed foods. They increase your stress hormone levels, and will feed the bad bacteria in your gut, causing stress in both your hormones and your gut.
What are the foods that help your body combat stress and anxiety?
Here are 3 categories of "anti-stress" foods that you should be eating every day:
1. Fatty foods rich in omega 3’s and protein are key to keeping your cortisol levels down, and have been shown to decrease anxiety. Great sources include:
- Wild fish
- Organic Omega 3 Eggs
- Grass-Fed lean meats
- Bone Broth made from grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken bones
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
2. Magnesium rich foods. Magnesium is our natural “chill pill” also known as the “relaxation mineral”. And it helps regulate our brain-adrenal connection, which is linked to stress and anxiety disorders. The best sources of magnesium include:
- Leafy greens (especially spinach & chard)
- Nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds and almonds)
- Legumes (especially lentils, black beans and kidney beans)
- Whole grains (especially brown rice, oats and quinoa)
- Dark chocolate and raw cacao
- Some fruits like avocado, coconut, figs and bananas (avocado and coconut have the added benefit of healthy fats (aka category 1), so they're AWESOME foods to combat stress!)
3. Probiotic-Rich Foods. Probiotics feed our good gut bacteria (and help crowd out the bad bacteria), which is key because imbalances in our gut can alter our brain chemistry! That’s why many people refer to the gut as the “second brain”. Also, serotonin (known as our “feel good” hormone) is primarily produced in our gut, so having a healthy gut is key to feeling happy and relaxed! Some great sources include:
- Yogurt and Kefir (look for plain, organic and full-fat)
- Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi (make your own, or buy raw, non-pasteurized without preservatives or sugar)
- Fermented soy, such as natto, miso and tempeh (always opt for organic)
Creating BALANCED MEALS every day with a combination of these foods - rich in healthy fats, magnesium and probiotics - is key to restoring balance in your body and avoiding the negative effects of stress.
Want an extra de-stress agent? Enjoy a soothing, herbal tea such as Chamomile or Rooibos after your balanced meal. This combo will be sure to relax you and help you refocus on the present moment without the added nerves!