Everyone has stress in some form. Most every day pressures may even be good for us by motivating activity or behaviors that stimulate our minds, and encourage us to get up and get going. Other types of stress—the kind that bombards your thoughts, makes you sweat, or even sends you out back for a smoke aren’t healthy.
Learning to fight back against stress is key to developing a healthy lifestyle– and because increased stress has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, learning to fight its affects now could mean healthier days in your future. We know that exercise can help release stress-busting hormones, but did you know that what you eat can also influence how you feel at the end of the day and how your body responds to its challenges? Here are a few tips on foods to load up on to keep your body’s stress response in check.
These slowly digested starches can help stabilize blood sugar levels and encourage the release of serotonin—a brain chemical that causes relaxation. Look for whole grain pastas, breads, and warm cereals like old-fashioned hot oatmeal. Remember that all carbs are not created equal so try to avoid products that contain refined white flours (like traditional white sandwich breads, bagels and pasta) unless they specifically say “whole grain” in the ingredients.
Long recognized for its immune system support, vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure levels and some stress hormones. In fact, taking vitamin C has been shown to help your body’s stress hormones return to normal levels more quickly when compared to people who didn’t take the supplement. Get your daily dose through citrus fruits like oranges, broccoli and strawberries. Chewable supplements may also be used.
This isn’t just any fat though. Specifically you are looking for omega 3 fatty acids…and fish like salmon and tuna are rich in them. Not like other types of fat that may raise your blood pressure, these fats actually help regulate cholesterol levels and fight mood-busting hormones that trigger some types of depression and even premenstrual syndrome. To get the most benefit from your seafood, strive to eat three ounces of salmon or tuna twice a week. 3 ounces is approximately three, 1 inch by 1 inch cubes.
Learning to eat for stress management doesn’t require huge changes. By adding in just a few veggies, swapping your regular bread for whole wheat, and opting for fish over a burger are just a few ways to help your body and mind function at its very best. Not sure where to start? Dr. Hessel is here to help. Make an appointment and come in, or visit our online store to shop for the best vitamins and supplements available to help get you on the path to wellness today.