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Need Comfort? Stress-Reducing Foods

By Genevieve Smith

You may have been told not to turn to food when you’re stressed out. But did you know that the nutrients in some foods can actually help lower your stress? They give the term “comfort foods” a whole new, scientifically-based meaning.  

  • Yogurt - Rich in probiotics, the little-understood microbiome has a way of lowering our stress levels by affecting the quality and quantity of bacteria in our gut.
  • Oatmeal - When you turn to carbs in times of stress, your body is seeking a release of serotonin. But sugary treats will only give you a short spike and create an aftermath of fatigue and lethargy. Instead, turn to whole grains and complex carbs, like oatmeal, for long-lasting energy in times of need.
  • Dark Chocolate - Nobody said you had to cut out treats from your stress eating completely! Dark chocolate’s flavonoid content may have a stress-reducing effect while the caffeine contained helps boost mental sharpness. Turn to a few squares of a bar with at least 70 percent cacao for the most benefits.
  • Salmon - Those lovely, anti-inflammatory omega-3s contained in the fatty fish go a long way toward improving your mental health and are thought to contribute to stress reduction. If you don’t have time to grill up a filet, consider keeping canned salmon on hand for salads and sandwiches.
  • Soybeans - These little beans contain some fun amino acids -- tyrosine and tryptophan to be exact -- which catalyze the release of the mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
  • Black tea - Studies have supported anecdotal evidence relating tea drinking with relaxation. One study found a possible link between drinking black tea with a reduction in the stress hormone contisol. The subjects, young and healthy adults, did not experience the same relaxing effects when in the placebo group.                                                 
  • Leafy greens - Leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and arugula are high in folate. This B vitamin is necessary for turning amino acids into the neurotransmitters responsible for your happiness, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine.
  • BlueberriesThe polyphenols found in blueberries are associated with reduced rates of stress and anxiety. This antioxidant compound may work its magic through its anti-inflammatory properties and the effect it has on the nervous system. 

Now you know the tricks to science-approved foods in times of hunger and hardship. Thanks to bacteria, flavonoids, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids and more, your body can perform at its highest levels during stress. So feel free to tackle that next task head-on with the serenity of knowing you can get through it just fine.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.


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