How Nutrition Can Impact Your Stress Levels
Stress is a feeling everyone can understand, but does nutrition play a role? Here’s how stress occurs and how nutrition can impact it.
Why Does Stress Occur?
The adrenal glands and nervous system send signals to the rest of the body when stress becomes apparent. As such, it prepares itself for a physical response, including heavy breathing and a raised heart rate. It’s a psychological response to help ensure survival, known as “fight or flight,” which stems back millions of years during life-or-death scenarios.
In modern times, stress can come from other day-to-day scenarios, such as overstimulation, loud noises, traffic jams, and more. As your exposure to various stressors increases, your psychological reactions become more noticeable until you reach constant tension or feel on edge.
Foods With Negative Stress Effects
While stress can cause various effects, such as mood swings, fearfulness, concentration loss, withdrawn habits, agitation, and more, nutrition can also impact stress levels negatively. Caffeine, for instance, can cause the adrenal glands to release cortisol, alongside increased feelings of nervousness and insomnia.
Foods high in sugar and fat can also heighten feelings of stress, especially when consumed in high quantities. It’s not only a negative impact on your overall health but can also make you feel worse over time. Sugar offers short energy bursts and temporary stress relief. Unfortunately, it can cause blood sugar crashes, leading to irritability and increased cravings. Lastly, alcohol may instantly calm the body; overconsumption can lead to health complications and heightened stress.
Foods That Help Reduce Stress
So, which foods can help lower the feelings of stress? Firstly, one of the most helpful nutrition tips is to eat fruits and vegetables with high amounts of micronutrients and vitamins. You want to consume more foods with copper, vitamins A, C, and E, magnesium, and zinc.
Furthermore, high-fiber and high-protein foods help with increased alertness, decreased stress, and maintained satiation that helps reduce cravings. Nutrient-dense snacks such as string cheese, nuts, carrots and hummus, yogurt, and pretzels can help satisfy cravings without grabbing chips or ice cream.
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