Can Diet Affect Our Stress Levels?
The food we put in our bodies has the power to alleviate or exacerbate stress.
While it might be tempting to turn to junk food when feeling stressed, there are healthier alternatives that help turn stress levels down. Sugar, caffeine, and empty carbs may provide a temporary feeling of relief, but these things actually increase cortisol levels and suppress your feel-good chemicals, leading to more mood swings, irritability, headaches, and more.
We are better off to choose foods that do one of these 3 things to combat stress:
Stabilize blood sugar — Complex carbs, fat, and protein digest slowly and keep blood sugar levels stable and when our blood sugar is stable, we put less stress on our adrenal glands. Whole grains, vegetables, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and lean meats will all satiate your appetite with a steady rise in blood sugar—no spikes and dips.
Encourage healthy gut flora — Processed and sugary foods contribute to bad bacteria in our gut, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and more feelings of stress. Beneficial bacteria, on the other hand, encourage the release of stress-relieving neurotransmitters such as GABA. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, and kefir are the best sources of natural probiotics.
Add stress-combating nutrients — Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, tryptophan, B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium are all high-powered, stress-fighting nutrients our body needs to manufacture mood-regulating neurotransmitters like dopamine and seratonin. Good sources of these nutrients include fatty fish, berries, dark chocolate, oranges, turkey, eggs, pumpkin seeds, beans, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.
So the next time you feel stressed and crave comfort food, reach for something that will really bring healing and relief to your body.