How Your Diet Affects Your Stress Levels


Stress is a state of mental or emotional or physical tension that is distressing to a person. It usually comes about as a result of events or thoughts that make you anxious or angry. The trigger could be a single episode or something that one has to constantly deal with, such as parenting an infant. If you do not deal with your stress properly, it can cause disruption in your life. Your ability to concentrate is significantly reduced. Your decision making may also be impaired. Long-standing stress can lead to mental disorders such as major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

There are various measures one can take to help deal with stress. One common recommendation is exercising. Physical activity triggers the brain to release endorphins, chemicals that are known to help one relax and induce positivity. Relaxation techniques such as Yoga are also effective stress relieving measures. Though it is rarely discussed alongside stress, diet modification will significantly help if you are dealing with stress.

Diet and Stress

Adopting a healthy diet will help mitigate the negative effects of stress on your mind and body. A healthy diet is one that provides sufficient and appropriate nutrition to all parts of your body. It should not have excesses that are detrimental to your health such as too much sugar. Your diet should help reduce oxidants and inflammation to prevent weight gain that is associated with stress.

Being very busy at school or work or home can cause stress. Having too little time on our hands, you are less likely to prepare or go out in search of healthy food. Besides, the effort it takes to prepare a healthy meal can be stressful and you will be put off. You will probably eat junk food. The food will play a role in worsening your stress leading to a vicious cycle. The solution is to develop a habit of preparing and eating healthy meals. Instead of perceiving meal preparation as a tasking stressful exercise, learn to do it as a therapeutic activity that allows you to withdraw to your own thoughts and provides a break from work. Try to avoid going out or ordering online food as chances are whatever you will buy cannot be described as healthy. Easting at home increases chances of having a healthy meal.

How Healthy Foods Reduce Stress

Cortisol, sometimes referred to as the stress hormone, is the hormone your body releases when you are stressed. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure (by vessel constriction) thus starving some organs of adequate blood supply. In addition, it opposes insulin activity thus blood sugar levels are elevated.

Nutrients such as omega-3s, vitamin E, and polyphenols improve blood flow to various organs in the body including the brain. Omega-3s are found in fish like tuna and salmon, and they also have anti-inflammatory effects. Foods like spinach, kale, sunflower seeds, almonds, and avocados are rich in Vitamin E. Polyphenols are available in dark chocolate, blueberries, and red wine. The enhanced blood flow is vital in maintaining vitality of the brain and consequently your mental sharpness. Increased blood supply ensures the brain receives enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Toxic by-products including carbon dioxide that may cause injury to the brain are also removed.

Recent research has established a link between gut microbiome and the brain. Having appropriate gut microbiome reduces the toxins that are known to affect the brain negatively. Probiotic cultures can be enhanced by eating fiber-containing foods such as vegetables and cereals, and fermented foods such yogurt.

Eat Healthy to Protect Your Brain

Your mental and physical health is largely a product of what you consume. Carefully choosing your diet goes a long way in securing your health and well-being.