It can be difficult to remove stress from your day - but good nutrition can improve your body's response to stress.
When you are acutely stressed your breathing rate increases, sweating may occur, and muscles become tense - this is all very normal and part of the "fight and flight" response. The fight and flight response is acceptable in small amounts, but when stress becomes more chronic and part of everyday life the implications on our health are greater.
When we are stressed it can be tempting to not eat as well as we could - eating out for convenience, eating more processed foods and drinking more alcohol. This pattern could mean less vitamins and minerals are available to the body when we need them the most. To help get back on track, try to make small changes to your diet - after all, they're often the more sustainable ones.
- Reduce your caffeine intake to a level you feel is minimum
- Drink more water to improve hydration (urine should be pale yellow colour)
- Eat at least three balanced meals per day
Why not check out our healthy recipes to help maintain energy and reduce the impact of stress on the body:
Foods that will help you to manage stress
Often our nutrition resources are depleted when stressed, leading to greater anxiety, low energy, and reduced immunity. Here are some foods you should include in your diet to help manage stress.
Eat your beans to boost energy levels
Stress can cause your energy levels to decrease which means that vitamins and minerals are required in greater amounts to metabolise proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for energy. Eating good vitamin B sources like meat, wholegrains, lentils and beans can help nourish the nervous system and improve how we respond to stress.
Eat citrus fruits for increased immunity
Chronic stress can trigger oxidative stress, which requires increased amounts of antioxidants (e.g. vitamin C) to rebalance the effect of stress. Some studies also found vitamin C reduced anxiety levels in school children following 500mg day over 14 days, and another found vitamin C reduced anxiety following 1000mg vitamin C over six weeks. Chronic stress also negatively impacts immunity. Vitamin C at 200mg day can reduce the severity and duration of colds.
Good sources of vitamin C include red pepper, broccoli and citrus fruits. Find out more about the benefits of vitamin C.
Eat your greens to help keep calm
Stress can lead to the loss of magnesium which is crucial for regulating our stress response as it helps to regulate cortisol and blood pressure. Magnesium also assists with the release of GABA which is a calming neurotransmitter. Magnesium food sources include: dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Written by: The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd
The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd was founded in 2006 by Anjanette Fraser whose previous career was in Corporate Finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, London. With a previous career in finance and studying a MSc in Nutritional Medicine, Anjanette translates the latest scientific research into an easier to understand format to improve employee health, and making healthcare more accessible by bringing Nutrition health professionals into the workplace.