There’s a saying that goes, “You are what you eat.” Whether referring to how we feel after indulging in junk food, or the benefits of a healthy diet, this common phrase goes a long way in describing the ways that certain foods affect our bodies.
It also relates to the way food can induce feelings of anxiety and stress. Scientists have said that when people feel stressed, they might crave a form of comforting food (like, for instance, a sugary treat) as a sort of reward to make them feel better; but in the long run, these sorts of foods don’t do much to help stress management at all.
In fact, according to Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton at Penn State University, who specializes in nutritional sciences, using junk foods as a way to satiate these feelings “won’t help your spirits and will probably leave you feeling grumpy and fatigued.”
Stress can be caused by a variety of hormones that send messages to our brains, and can be combated by chemicals found in certain kinds of healthy foods. For instance, the vitamins found in many vegetables help to produce serotonin and dopamine, which are known to alleviate feelings of stress and promote a calm mindset.
Astral at Franklin wants to keep you informed when it comes to stress management. In our community, senior living at Franklin means living with purpose; this can be difficult to do when our minds are clouded by feelings of anxiety. Here’s a list of our top five favorite foods that aid in stress management, so that you can incorporate these delicious ingredients into your own diet and stay healthy and happy!
Thanks to its leafy green properties, spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, which is known for aiding in stress management! Magnesium restricts the release of stress hormones, like cortisol, and filters them away from the brain. In fact, some doctors have stated that magnesium deficiencies are a major contributor to anxiety and panic attacks. Spinach also contains vitamin B9, which stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that assists the communication between brain cells, and leads to smoother brain function and good mental health.
If you’re a fan of guacamole or avocado toast, good news! Avocados are an excellent source of B vitamins, which boost your mood and improve brain function. They also contain lutein, a nutrient that can enhance memory and problem-solving skills and cognitive functions that can also improve mood. Scientists have identified a clear connection between stress and cognitive function (memory, attention, problem-solving skills), and when our brains receive nutrients that boost these functions, our mental health is almost instantly improved!
Whether you eat them over easy or sunny side up, eggs are an excellent benefit for your nervous system and brain, especially when you feel stressed. Egg yolks contain about 20% of our daily recommended dosage of an amino acid called tryptophan, which is necessary for serotonin production (serotonin plays a major role in the communication of cells for bodily functions like mood, sleep, and digestion). When we eat eggs, serotonin is produced and eases feelings of stress in our brain, promoting a calming feeling.
Eggs are also an excellent source of vitamin D, which helps memory function!
The next time you wake up feeling a bit anxious or stressed, start off your day with a handful of almonds! This tasty snack is full of B vitamins, which helps to ease your heart rate when your body is facing times of stress. If you want to switch things up, you can also expect the same results and benefits from pistachios and walnuts!
Sweet potatoes are a magic ingredient when it comes to getting creative in the kitchen; they can be used for both sweet and savory dishes, and are even delicious when you eat them by themselves with a little bit of butter! This root veggie is also full of complex carbohydrates that stimulate serotonin production, to serve as a stabilizer for your mood; in fact, studies have shown that diets that are high in complex carbs can reduce cortisol levels in your body.
These five foods contain all of the essentials to control stress hormones and improve your mental health; from beneficial vitamins to nutrients that promote serotonin production, incorporate these delicious foods into your diet to reap all of the benefits!
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