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Future Health

Foods That Help Fight Stress

August 15, 2016 

Millions of Americans are affected by stress every day, and their overall health suffers from that. Few know that help may be in their cabinet or refrigerator.


Certain foods can help us handle stress in a healthier manner and can be a useful way to improve our wellness. Eating healthy foods that help our bodies handle stress better.


While food alone can't cure the problem, it can be an important when used in conjunction with other stress management techniques such as identifying stressors, building healthy relationships and relaxation measures.


For example, some foods may help stabilize blood glucose levels which avoid the peaks and valleys that exacerbate stress. Green leafy vegetables have certain vitamins and nutrients that increase dopamine levels that help keep you calm during times of stress. One of the ingredients found in green vegetables is folic acid, a vitamin that was shown in one study to decrease the risk of depression; depression also exacerbates stress.


Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which increases production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for feeling happy and satisfied. Antidepressants often work on the same chemical, serotonin, and we know that depression is linked with stress.


Carbohydrates stimulate the brain to produce and release serotonin, which has antidepressant properties. Among carbohydrates, lower glycemic index foods that have fiber are the best options.


Fermented foods also can help. Bacteria in our gut may be contributing to our level of stress. Bad bacteria, which may worsen during times of stress, can cause inflammation in the gut and may spread to other areas, compounding the problem. Eating foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, natto, among others, help to keep a balance between the good and bad bacteria in our gut which in turn can reduce level so of stress.


Omega 3 fatty acids, talked about time and time again as the healthiest fat, are found in fish such as salmon. These seem to help lessen the ill effects of stress hormones being released. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation and fight heart disease.


Antioxidants help boost the immune system and neutralize free radials that are a byproduct of the stress response. Since antioxidants also boost the immune system by aiding white blood cells, foods such as blueberries and blackberries are especially effective at reducing damage done by stress.


Other foods that have antioxidants include green tea, berries, dark chocolate, pecans, and certain types of beans.


As a bonus, dark chocolate helps blood vessels relax to improve circulation and reduce blood pressure. It is also sometimes reported to produce euphoria, which can also help increase happiness and reduce cortisol and stress.


It is important to have more than one stress management technique, but diet should be on your list. Try to include at least one of these foods in your daily diet to help reduce the effects of stress.