Ten Foods to Reduce Stress

It’s not for nothing they call stress the ‘slow killer’. With the recession and the increasing pressure to live in the fast lane, we have never been exposed so highly to it. And you may not realise it, but having an argument with a friend or receiving that scary credit card bill can make your body react just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems and disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. The current recession proves we are a nation in the grip of stress. In a nationwide survey by the Samaritans, over 59 per cent of people cited problems with debts and money as their main concern with almost a third of people describing 2009 as a bad year or their worst ever. So while you might not be able to control the stress in your life, you can control your eating habits. We look at the top ten stress-busting foods. 1. Complex Carbohydrates – These include among others – brown rice, high fibre breakfast cereals, beans, lentils, bran and barley. In terms of stress control, complex carbohydrates encourage the body to produce serotonin, a stress relieving chemical. Eating these foods should allow you to maintain a sense of calm, even when things are a bit crazy.
2. Asparagus – Asparagus is a handy yet tasty vegetable to include in most dinners – from simple meat and two veg combinations to more complicated recipes. It is rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that is necessary to prevent irritability, fatigue, depression and confusion.

3. Avocados – Avocados have tons of B vitamins in them. They help to lower cholesterol and protect the body from stress and damage. Also, the high potassium levels in avocados are helpful for managing stress. Try eating a small serving of avocado each day to manage your weight and balance your feelings of anxiety better. 4. Nuts – Go nutty and have a helping of Brazil nuts or almonds. Almonds are rich in vitamin E which helps to fight some of the damage caused by stress. Brazil nuts, meanwhile, contain lots of zinc and selenium, which also fights free radicals.
5. Chicken Breast – Chicken is a great source of tryptophan, which can help you sleep better and elevate your mood. Contrary to popular belief, chicken breast actually contains slightly more tryptophan than turkey. Buy free range and you’re likely to see even more benefits.
6. Low Fat and Skimmed Milk – Milk actually helps your nerves stay healthy and, as it can stabilize your blood sugar, it also stops you from feeling those extreme highs and lows. But stay away from caffeine with your milk if you’re stressed, it will just make you feel worse.
7. Panax Ginseng – Go along to your local herb shop and have a browse for natural stress reducing supplements. Panax Ginseng is an ancient Chinese herb that is popular both in the West and China. It was originally used for all manner of conditions. In the western world, however, it is used for two primary issues – both stress and aging.
8. Chamomile or peppermint tea – Substitute one of your daily coffees for Chamomile tea and peppermint tea and see your stress levels go down. Warm chamomile tea is comforting for adults and children during an illness or times of stress. Peppermint tea is easy on the stomach and can also be used to increase concentration.
9. Dark leafy greens – Dark leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach and collards are B-complex vitamin rich and known for calming your nerves. These B vitamins are crucial for stress prevention because they are needed to create serotonin, a chemical that helps to boost your mood.
10. Chocolate – Now you have an excuse! Even though chocolate usually contains some caffeine, it’s also one of the best foods to eat in a stress relief diet. Most doctors still can’t figure out why chocolate makes us feel so good, although some think it might be the antioxidants chocolate is loaded with. Just don’t eat too much of it or you’ll be even more stressed than before!