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Foods that Combat Stress

Help your body rebound from excessive stress by eating stress-fighting foods.
March 21, 2009
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There is certainly enough stress in all of our lives these days. Unfortunately,
most people try to live with it until it shows up as headaches, sleeplessness or irritability. People who are under constant stress are more vulnerable to illness, everything from colds to high blood pressure and heart disease. One strategy to help our body rebound from excessive stress is to eat stress-fighting foods.

Foods can help fight stress in a variety of ways. Some foods can actually boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical, while other foods can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that can build up and take a toll on the body over time. Foods that strengthen the immune
system or lower blood pressure will naturally help your body overcome potential damage from stress.

Below are some recommendations from WebMD for stress-fighting foods:

• Complex Carbohydrates. All carbs prompt the brain to make more serotonin. It’s best to eat complex carbs which are digested more slowly. Good choices include whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and oatmeal. Complex carbs can also help stabilize blood sugar levels.

• Oranges. Oranges offer a wealth of vitamin C. Studies suggest that vitamin C can reduce levels of stress hormones and strengthen the immune system.

• Spinach. The magnesium in spinach helps regulate cortisol levels that can get depleted when we’re under pressure.

• Fatty Fish. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, that can prevent surges in stress hormones and protect against heart disease. For greatest benefit, go for three ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week.

• Avocados. The potassium in avocados can help to reduce high blood pressure. It may surprise you to know that half an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana.

• Herbal Supplements. Since there is no FDA regulation of herbal supplements, consumers must be especially cautious of exaggerated claims. One of the most studied herbal supplements is St. John’s wort, which has shown benefit to people with mild-to-moderate depression. Although more research is needed, the herb also appears to help with anxiety and PMS.

• Bedtime Snack. While carbs at bedtime may help you sleep better, heavy meals before bed can trigger heartburn, so choose something light like toast and jam. Another bedtime stress reducer is something we remember from grandma, a glass of warm milk. Researchers have found calcium can reduce muscle spasms and ease tension. Most dietitians recommend skim or low-fat milk.

Source: WebMD.com. To learn about other stress-reducing foods, go to: www.webmd.com/diet/diet-for-stress-manage ment-slideshow

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