The foods we eat can have a significant impact upon our stress levels and there are some foods that fuel stress whilst there are other foods to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Great Foods to Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Stress can affect our minds and bodies in many ways, including digestive problems like bloating, sickness or abdominal pain; nausea, constipation or diarrhoea. Unfortunately, some of the stress-reducing foods can trigger similar symptoms in IBS sufferers. We have therefore selected a range of foods that not only reduce stress but are also “low FODMAP” foods and should consequently be suitable for IBS patients. Here is our top choice of five natural foods to reduce stress.
Natural Foods to Reduce Stress
- Spinach – Already enjoying an outstanding reputation in terms of nutritional value. this leafy green vegetable contains an iron, magnesium and folate nutrient combination that can help beat stress by:
- Increasing “happy hormones” (i.e. dopamine) production,
- Combatting fatigue, and
- Supporting the nervous system
The magnesium in spinach is especially noteworthy, as low magnesium levels are frequently associated with increased susceptibility to stress. As stress can deplete magnesium levels, this can lead to a vicious circle making you increasingly vulnerable every time a potentially stressful situation arises.
- Oats – Stress not only depletes your nutrient stores but also affects your levels of blood glucose. Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose – sugar – out of the bloodstream. Rising stress/anxiety levels can suppress insulin action and cause a surge in blood glucose levels.
Unfortunately, these levels will ‘plummet’ after the stressful episode – causing a ‘crash’ that can generate cravings for unhealth, fatty and/or sugary snacks.
Containing plenty of fibre and providing a gentle, slow release of energy (as opposed to delivering a ‘quick hit’), oats can slow sugar absorption and thereby help to prevent this problem.
What’s more, oats also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can be converted by the body into serotonin, which in turn helps relax both body and mind.
- Oily Fish – Stress can raise your blood pressure, which can, of course, significantly affect your heart’s health. The NHS recommends eating a portion of oily fish like trout, sprats and sardines; salmon, pilchards, mackerel and herring (i.e. bloaters, hilsa and kippers) at least once a week.
This advice is supported by research, which suggests that these oily fishes’ omega-3 fatty acids could help protect the heart from mental stress effects and even work to reduce adrenal hormone (i.e. adrenaline) production.
- Bell Peppers – These colourful vegetables not only contain plenty of vitamin C but also quercetin, an anti-inflammatory flavonoid compound that can, according to human trials, help suppress cortisol synthesis during stressful situations and thereby negate this hormone’s negative effect on both your mood and body.
- Walnuts – Boasting a natural inflammatory action, walnuts are also a great source (vegan friendly!) of omega-3 fatty acids. As such, they can help:
- Your body cope better with varying physical effects (i.e. elevated blood pressure, inflammation) of stress
- Not only your body but also your brain by supporting healthy cognitive function
Walnuts may not reduce stress as such but support your body when it strikes – which makes them a worthy addition to this list.
In the Meantime, …
While reaching for these foods instead of the usual unhealthy snacks will invariably help to reduce both your stress levels and its unpleasant effects on your digestive system, it may take a little time for you to reap the full benefits from eating them.
Until you do, you can take control of stress-related upper gastrointestinal problems with silicolgel. Here’s how…