You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” It’s a common phrase often used to bring awareness to how certain foods affect our physical health. The benefits of a healthy diet go a long way in keeping us fit and ensuring we get the nutrients we need.
However, this phrase also relates heavily to how food can affect our mental health. Our mental well-being includes our emotional, psychological, and social health and affects how we think, feel, and act. It also determines how we are able to handle stress and anxiety.
Scientists and nutritionists have often noted that when people are dealing with stressful situations or feelings of anxiety, they’re prone to making food choices that they feel will bring comfort, such as a sugary treat. This is often viewed as a reward to help us feel better. However, these eating choices often bring short-term gratification and can lead to even worse feelings of stress in the long run.
Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton specializes in nutritional sciences at Penn State University and has stated that what people eat can significantly affect mood, especially when we choose unhealthy foods during times of mental crisis.
“[As] tempting as it is, [junk food] won’t help your spirits and will probably leave you feeling grumpy and fatigued,” she shares.
When it comes to diets, the best way to alleviate stress isn’t to reach for the nearest pint of ice cream. Stress can be caused by different hormones that send messages to our brains and can be combated by the nutrients and chemicals found in a variety of healthy foods. For example, many vegetables contain vitamins that aid the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are known to decrease feelings of stress.
The Woodlands at Canterfield wants to help you make the best choices to improve your stress management naturally. One of the goals of our brand-new luxury senior living community in West Dundee, Illinois, is to help residents live with purpose and enjoy every aspect of their lives; this can be hard to accomplish when we feel riddled with anxiety.
Here are five foods that naturally aid in stress management.
Oranges are often hailed as the largest source of vitamin C in fruits and vegetables, but broccoli is actually the star of the C department. In fact, 100 grams of cooked broccoli has almost double the amount of vitamin C of an orange.
Vitamin C deficiencies have been linked to high-stress levels, so you will see a major improvement in stress management by consuming enough of this vitamin.
In addition, broccoli contains magnesium, which is known for blocking any stimulating neurotransmitters and binding itself to calm receptors in the brain. Magnesium also filters away stress hormones, like cortisol, from the brain and aids in driving away panic attacks and feelings of stress.
Everyone has a favorite way to order their eggs; whether you like them over easy or scrambled, eggs are an excellent way to reap the benefits of many stress-fighting amino acids and vitamins.
Eggs contain almost 20% of our daily recommended dose of tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for serotonin production (serotonin plays a major role in the communication of cells for bodily functions like mood, sleep and digestion). By eating eggs, our bodies produce serotonin and ease any feelings of stress, promoting a calming feeling.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be used for sweet and savory dishes and are perfect for getting creative in the kitchen. But this root veggie isn’t just a recipe muse; sweet potatoes are also full of complex carbohydrates that stimulate serotonin production to serve as a stabilizer for your mood. In fact, studies have shown that when people incorporate high levels of complex carbs into their diets, cortisol levels are greatly reduced in the body.
4. Black-eyed peas
These delicious peas accomplish so much more than bringing good luck on New Year’s Day. In fact, black-eyed peas are full of thiamine (often called vitamin B1). Thiamine strengthens the immune system, which boosts the body’s ability to withstand stress levels.
Black-eyed peas aren’t the only member of the bean-related family to contain thiamine: lentils, soybeans, lima beans, and peanuts are also rich in thiamine.
Doctors have stated that magnesium deficiencies are a huge contributor to anxiety and panic attacks. Fortunately, leafy greens, such as spinach, are an excellent source of magnesium, which is known for aiding in stress management. Magnesium helps to block the release of stress hormones, like cortisol, and filter them away from the brain.
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.
These five foods contain essentials to help you control your body’s stress levels and improve your mental health. Incorporate these ingredients into your meal prep to start seeing the benefits!
For more educational resources and to learn more about our brand-new luxury senior living community, explore our website or call us at 224-802-4388!