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5 foods that can improve your stress levels

By Jenetta Haim
from Stressfree Management®

Stress is a prolific illness in our world today. It permeates into our kid’s lives while they are still in school, creeps into our relationships, into our offices and stays with us through to old age. But it doesn’t have to be so. There are many ways to alleviate stress – what we need is a healthy tool kit to use against it. Natural medicine can teach us different skills, including how to use the different modalities to ease stress levels. This is something we can all adopt at any age for all of our lives. Learning to eat right is part of this tool kit, which includes many foods that can help you reduce your stress levels.

Top of the list are dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli. These contain folate which help your body make neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is found in the gastro-intestinal tract, blood platelets and the nervous system and contributes to our good moods. Dopamine is important for good coordination and memory.
Dark leafy vegetables also contain magnesium, something that we do not seem to have enough of it in our diet these days, but something which is good for muscular aches and pains, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, tiredness, PMS, cramps and fluid retention. Other sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseed. So while kale, spinach and broccoli may not seem like the most appetising options, they can be made into a juice with sweet vegetables such as carrot and beetroot, or cooked and served with your favourite protein dish such as chicken or turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan which will add to your stress buster kit as it is an amino acid that converts into serotonin.

Serotonin is found in the gastro-intestinal tract and although people often do not connect the two, much ill health begins in the gut area. Unhealthy gut flora can impact how you think, your anxiety levels, and what causes you stress. Fermented foods help the body make beneficial bacteria which can help to enhance your moods and make you feel better. A simple food such as yoghurt, can have a beneficial effect on brain function enhancing your positive feelings. Be careful when buying yoghurts from supermarkets as they can be full of artificial flavouring and sugar. A natural yoghurt or one made yourself is much better.

In addition to yoghurt, when looking for a healthy snack, nuts are a great choice, especially pistachio nuts which can lower vascular constriction when you get stressed. This means it lowers the stress on your heart by dilating your arteries. Ensure the nuts are fresh and good quality, and choose organic where possible. The reason for this is that non-organic foods can be either genetically modified or exposed to sprays that are absorbed into the food, entering our bodies which could result in illness.

Some other foods on the de-stress list are salmon, sardines, chocolate and avocados. Salmon and sardines contain Omega 3 fats, EPA and DHA which are good for your joints, aches and pains and assist with lifting your moods, anxiety and depression. Add to this a square or two of dark chocolate which contains ananamide, a substance made in the brain that temporarily blocks out pain, anxiety and depression and you have a happy recipe. Some people find that as their glucose levels fluctuate they become tired, anxious and grouchy, avocados help to regulate blood sugar, therefore helping to enhance your mood. Quite often a deficiency in vitamins such as B, especially B12, can lead to depressive moods, avocados contain lots of vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin E, Vitamin B and folates to help combat this.

So while there are lots of natural supplements you can take to enhance your absorption of nutrients if you are deficient, food still plays a major part in how you can combat stress. If you eat healthily and ensure you compensate for any deficiencies in vitamins and minerals you may have, you will find that very soon, you will start to slim down, have more energy and feel better with reduced stress levels. Have a talk to a natural therapist who can point you in the right direction to knowing which nutrients you are lacking and how you can speed up your healing.

More about the author

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Jenetta Haim
– Stressfree Management®

Jenetta Haim (ATMS member number 10867) is a nutritionist and natural therapist specialising in many modalities. She runs Stressfree Management® at Gipps Road, Greystanes.

Jenetta’s book ‘Stress-Free Health Management, A Natural Solution for Your Health’ written in simplistic chapters will give you further insight into how to get healthy and stay healthy.