Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stress Relieving Food

Eating a poorly balanced diet can do more than change your outward appearance.  In fact, processed food can  degrade your mental state to severely frustrating levels.  Bad food stresses you out!  No one likes stress, it can make every new day a beast to tackle, and can affect things like social relationships with others, work quality, workout quality, and even your sleep cycle.  A healthy diet is one of the greatest ways going to manage stress levels, and there's no doubt in my mind or the mind of top scientists that healthy foods will make you feel a heck of a lot better.  Let's examine what's in healthy food that can really combat stressful situations.

First of all, this won't be one of those "top 10 food" articles for stress relief.  I don't take much stock in those kind of lists, especially because the nutrients those foods contain that somehow make them "top 10" worthy are in fact shared by hundreds of foods that are equally as good for you.  To ignore such amazing diet choices is a very poor and naive idea.

So what foods do the best job of combating stress?  Well that's not a hard question to answer, and I honestly bet you could take a seriously good guess.  Healthy foods like Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains do an amazing job at providing your body with the nutrients you need to produce the hormones needed to fight off excess cortisol, one chemical associated with stress when excreted in excess.

Both Vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids are incredible combatants of excess cortisol, and therefore can significantly decrease stress levels.  Foods rich in these are most vegetables and fruits (bell peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, apples, oranges, bananas, etc.), and lots of fish including salmon, tuna, crab, herring, swordfish, and many other varieties.

Foods high in folic acid are also great stress combatants, and once again, these foods include most any vegetable you can think of, especially dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, cucumbers, and many others.  Try a few for dinner tonight!

Another main cause of stress is the excess of free radicals in the body.  Free radicals are atoms that have an unpaired electron in their outermost (valence) shell, which makes them extremely unstable and damaging to human cells.  Certain nutrients have been shown to eliminate free radicals quite effectively.  Foods high in anti-oxidants will do the best job at eliminating these pesky little guys.  Foods high in anti-oxidants include most fruits, like blueberries, pomegranates, apples, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, etc.  A fruit, helping you to feel better?  Who would've guessed.

Certain other nutrients will help to combat free radicals very efficiently as well, including many vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C, B2, and E.  Surprise surprise, most fruits and vegetables are very high in all three of these.  Get some into your diet!

So there you have it.  Simple really, eat well, feel great!  Who knew?  Keep healthy foods in that diet of yours, and you'll do more than keep slim for the holidays.  With all that's going on these days, I'm guessing you could use all the chipper attitude you can muster, right?  Let those healthy foods help you out!

Eat your veggies, keep smiling, and as always, good luck!

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