$1* Buys $100,000
Globe Life Insurance
Free Quote—Apply in Minutes
Fast Approval Process
$2.17 for Children or Grandchildren
Is Your Diet Making You Feel More Stress?
Traffic jams, bills, deadlines, screaming children, nit-picky bosses – all these and countless other factors can cause stress in our daily lives. But what if your diet was also to blame for raising your stress levels? What if by avoiding certain foods you could actually reduce anxiety and feel calmer and more at peace? Check out what researchers are now saying about how the food you eat impacts your body’s stress levels…
1 – What is Stress?
While stress is generally thought of as a negative effect of unpleasant circumstances in our lives, the fact is that all stress isn’t bad. So what is stress exactly? Stress can be anything that challenges or threatens us. Actually, any stimulus that causes stress is called a “stressor” and stress itself is that feeling you get when you’re faced with pressures or challenges to your well-being.
Humans often react with a fight or flight response when facing major stressors. This fight or flight response is actually how the sympathetic nervous system reacts. Larger amounts of the “stress hormones” cortisol and adrenaline (more on that later) are released causing accelerated heart rate, heightened alertness, and muscle preparedness.
These physiological changes can be beneficial when in a survival situation and can even help in routinely stressful situations. But when the body continually experiences the other side of the fight or flight response, such as the slowing down of the immune and digestive systems – this can take a toll.
2 – How the “Stress Hormones” Work
Stressors set off alarms in your body that led to the release of certain hormones. The three major stress hormones are cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, is a steroid produced by the adrenal glands. As part of the fight/flight response, cortisol can be very helpful. But too much cortisol increases blood pressure, suppresses the immune system, and can even decrease sex-drive and cause weight gain.
Adrenaline is also produced by the adrenal glands and causes an increase in heart rate. Norepinephrine serves a similar role as adrenaline as it makes you more responsive and focused. While both of these hormones can be beneficial, it can take your body days to return to its natural state once these hormones have been released. When these hormones are released over and over again in a short time period it can wear down the immune system and cause exhaustion.
3 – Can Food Relieve Stress?
So what does all of this have to do with food? The foods that you eat actually have an effect on both how much stress you feel and how well your body handles stress. Diet is a major component in overall body health. And just like certain foods can lower or raise your risk of health complications and disease, the foods you eat can either help you or hurt when it comes to dealing with stress.
Switching to a healthier diet is a good step for anyone seeking to reduce stress and improve the body’s reactions to stressors. But even if you already eat healthy, you still might not be getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need to max out your body’s ability to deal with stressful situations.
Check out this list of foods that combat stress:
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Many fresh fruits and vegetables help the body handle stress. Leafy greens like spinach aid your body in balancing healthy levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Oranges and other citrus fruits are high in vitamin C which helps slow down the body’s production of cortisol. A study conducted by the University of Alabama found that lab rats given a vitamin C supplement and faced with a stressful event had lower levels of cortisol than normal.
Oily fish – like salmon, mackerel and sardines – contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids which help to lower stress levels in the body. According to a study done by Ohio State University researchers, test subjects given omega 3 supplements experienced a 20 percent drop in anxiety when dealing with stressful situations compared to test subjects who did not take the supplements. And another study conducted in France showed that omega 3 fatty acids keep adrenaline and cortisol levels from peaking.
That’s right; one of nature’s most deliciously addictive foods can also help relieve stress. Dark chocolate is chock-full of flavoniods – natural relaxers that may ease feelings of anxiety. Chocolate also contains the mood-enhancing chemical phenethylamine. Eating just a small amount of dark chocolate daily can lower cortisol levels. Nestle researches found during a two-week study that subjects given daily chocolate experienced decreases in cortisol levels.
Nuts are a great healthy food source that helps you combat stress better. Almonds are packed with vitamin B2 and magnesium. Vitamin B2 and magnesium both aid in serotonin production, helping to relieve stress by regulating mood. Walnuts have been shown to help those with high adrenaline levels by lowering blood pressure levels. Other tips to help your body handle stress better are drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep at night. You can also eat regularly – about every four hours – in order to keep your body’s metabolism going.
4 – So Which Foods Trigger Stress the Most?
We’ve discussed how hormones in the body cause higher levels of stress and what foods can help you handle stress better. But what about the foods you should avoid? Some foods that can raise stress levels or impede your body’s ability to handle stress are listed below.
Coffee and Energy Drinks
Coffee contains the neuro-stimulants caffeine and theo-bromine. These stimulants put your body on edge making it less capable of finding balance in stressful situations. Energy drinks, of course, also contain caffeine as well as lots of sugar. Sugar crashes can leave you feeling tired and grumpy and less able to deal with stress.
While the idea of having one stiff drink to calm the nerves is popular, alcohol can actually increase stress levels. According to a study done in 2008 and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism alcohol stimulates cortisol release. Steering clear of alcoholic beverages for the most part may lead to lower stress levels.
It’s common to be tempted to grab a sugary snack when feeling anxious or stressed about something. In fact, raised cortisol levels bring on sugar cravings. But trying to relieve stress by eating sugary foods can backfire. According to a University of South Florida study, lab rats fed diets high in sugar had higher levels of stress when faced with the same stimuli as rats on low-sugar diets.
In general a diet of fast food, sugar, and alcoholic and caffeinated drinks will trigger more stress-inducing hormones and inhibit your body’s natural ability to deal with stress. On the other hand, you can help your body deal with stress more effectively with a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and nuts. The old saying ‘you are what you eat” still holds true. So a change in diet could mean a more peaceful and relaxed you.
You might also be interested in...
- 6 Foods That Feed Your Brain
- 6 Things To Give Up This Year
- 7 Common Relationship Deal-Breakers
- 7 Facts Women Should Know About Heart Disease
- When You Already Feel Like Giving Up On Your Resolutions
- Amazing Tips To Help You Get Through Allergy Season
- Anti-Aging Tips And Tricks
- Are Protein Shakes A Healthy Choice?
- Are We More Stressed Than the Rest of the World
- Are You Ruining Your Relationship
- Are You Socially Awkward?
- Attitude Of Gratitude
- Beating Work Burnout is Easier than You Think
- Benefits Of Yoga And Meditation
- Beware Of Relationship Killers
- Big Cities Surprisingly Great for Outdoorsy People
- How To Boost Your Self Confidence
- Can Saying You’re Sorry Save Your Life?
- Can White Wines Be Healthy Too
- Changing Careers In Your 40s
- Divorced, But Are You Ready To Start Dating Again?
- Do You Fight Like Other Couples?
- When you don't have a green thumb
- 8 PreWorkout Meals To Maximize Results
- Financial Benefits Of Co-Habitation vs Marriage
- Financial Tips To Follow During And After Divorce
- Five Ways To Lead A Regret-Free Life
- Why Your Friends Should Be Jealous If You’re 30-Something And Single
- Can A Full Moon Really Affect People?
- Getting a Life Insurance Quote Without Getting a Medical Exam
- Health Benefits Of Almond Milk
- The Health Benefits Of Avocado
- Health Benefits Of Cinnamon
- How To Choose A Multivitamin?
- How To Make The New Year The Best One Yet
- How To Prepare For Your Next Interview
- Is a Co-worker Making You Hate Your Job?
- Is The Ketogenic Diet Safe?
- Is Music The Antidote For Depression
- Is Your Diet Making You Feel More Stress?
- How To Keep Your Facebook Safe From Scammers
- Life Insurance Companies Offer Protection
- Living With Fibromyalgia
- How To Look Better Than Ever At 40
- More Big Cities Surprisingly Great for Outdoorsy People
- Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux
- No Medical Exam Life Insurance—Simple Application
- 10 Olympic Sports That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Outrageous Facts about U.S. Presidents
- Ovarian Cancer--The Silent Killer
- Overcoming Frustration
- How To Get Relief From Credit Card Debt
- Is There A Risk of Heart Disease Due To Drinking?
- Shocking Food Facts that May Change the Way You Eat
- Sick Of Running? 5 Cardio Routines You Should Try Instead
- Smart Tips for Getting Paid What You Really Deserve
- Strange Laws You Don't Even Know You're Breaking
- The Singles’ Guide To Life Insurance
- Things To Remember When Buying Life Insurance
- Top 5 Things You Need To Know About Life Insurance
- Top 6 Factors That Destroy Your Credit Score
- Top Ten Health Tips For Active Women Over 50
- Treating Menopause Symptoms With Alternative Medicine
- Want To Know How Your Interview Went? Think Of It Like A First Date…
- What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer
- What Is Ruining Your Workout
- What Most 30–Somethings Wish They’d Known in Their 20s
- Whats Really To Blame For Your Bad Mood
- Why You Keep Overeating and How to Stop
- Why You Need To Talk About Life Insurance
- You Can't Afford to Believe These Women's Health Myths
- 5 Plants To Keep In Your Bedroom
- Five Simple Ways To Protect Your Retirement
- The Best Ways To Cover Gray Hair
- 5 Hidden Causes Of High Blood Pressure
- 10 Steps To Get Through The Holidays Stress-Free
- 5 Ways To Break A Bad Habit
- The 5 Benefits Of A Veterans Home Loan
- Top 5 Prevention Tips For Heart Disease And Stroke
- 5 Surprising Facts About Low-Carb Diets
- 7 Ways To Live A Happier Life
- 6 Tips To Be More Productive
- 7 Steps To Help Someone Who Is Grieving
- 4 Reasons Why Your Diet Resolutions May Be Counterproductive
- Deciding On Braces After 40
- Why A Massage May Be Helpful For Back Pain
- How To Have Self-Compassion
- How To Stay Productive When You Don’t Feel Like it
- Foods To Eat When You’re Feeling Stressed
- How Helping Others Can Make You Happier
- Why You Don’t Have To Fear Fat When Dieting
- 6 Things You Should Do To Live Without Regret
- How To Create Your Own Happiness
- How To Get Immediate Stress Relief
- Why It May Be Time To Make Some Changes
- Why You May Want To Sleep On Your Left Side
- 4 Health Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
- Dos And Don’ts Of Job Interviews
- How You Can Benefit From Showing A Little Love
- Can Debt Affect Your Health?
- What Women In Their 50s Know
- Hidden Reasons For Night Sweats
- 5 Simple Lung Cancer Prevention Tips
- Why You Should Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone Now
- 7 Tips To Keep Runners Safe
- How To Stop Emotional Eating Now
- Reach Your Potential In 4 Steps
- 5 Ultimate Weight Loss Hacks
- Can Social Media Help With Weight Loss
- How A Good Impression Can Change Everything
- Must-Know Travel Tips If You Want To Stay Safe
- Three New Ways To Make Big Changes
- The Hidden Benefits Of Ginger
- 5 Tricks To Slim Down Fast
- How To Finally Wake Up Better
- 5 Chemical-Free Ways To Keep Skin Young
- The Secret Benefits Of Salt
- Why Be An Organ Donor?
- How To Relieve Stomach Ulcers Fast
- Disaster Relief Do’s And Don’ts
- How To Say Goodbye To A Loved One
- 4 Tricks To Prevent A Cybercrime Attack
- The Dos And Don’ts Of Getting A Tattoo
- What To Do When Hearing Loss Strikes
- How Auto Ship Programs Keep Scamming People
- How To Decrease Stress And Increase Productivity
- Unique Relief For Chronic Neck Pain
- Ransomware–What It Is And How To Avoid Attack
- Five Reasons To Drink More Tea
- 5 Major Life Events That May Require Life Insurance
- 6 Reasons Newlyweds Should Consider Life Insurance
- How Long Does It Take to Get a Life Insurance Policy?
- How Long Does It Take to Get Life Insurance Money?
- What You Need To Know About Mortgage Assistance Programs
- How to Build a Better Resume: 7 Helpful Tips
- 4 Things Women Should Do During Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- 10 Ways to Get More Out of Life
- Who Owns Globe Life and Accident Insurance Company?
- Can I Buy Life Insurance Online?
- Cancelling My Life Insurance. What are My Options?
- Can Life Insurance be Purchased on Anyone by Anyone?
- Understanding Insurance Claims: Complex Causes of Accidental Death
- How Can I Sell My Life Insurance Policy?
- Checking Your Insurance Coverage Before Traveling Abroad: What to Know
- Can I Convert My Term Life Insurance into a Whole Life Insurance Policy?
- Should I Buy Enough Life Insurance to Pay Off My Mortgage?
- What Is Whole Life Insurance?
- Beyond Active Duty: Life Insurance Options for US Veterans
- The Risk of Having a Stroke for People Under 40
- Is Drowning Considered an Accidental Death for Insurance Purposes?
- How Long is a Term Life Insurance Policy?