Nutrition Helps Manage Stress, Some Tips
Saturday, March 14, 2015 02:15 PM

In the battle against stress, nutrition might be the best line of defense. A certain vitamin or mineral isn’t likely to make or break your stress levels, but good nutrition can boost your immune system, energy levels and mood.  Of course, it’s not the only factor involved, but it is one we can control.  Dietary recommendations for stress relief and prevention aren’t much different from general dietary recommendations.

The first step is to keep eating at regular intervals, which helps keep your blood sugar steady and fuel your body in its heightened fight-or-flight state.  Don’t skip meals, and don’t go too long without eating – eat every three to four hours or so.

Tea – Green tea contains antioxidants, which can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Plus the amino acid found in green tea has been linked to feeling “cooler under pressure.” Caffeine should be used in moderation during times of stress; tea contains a much smaller amount than coffee.

Berry smoothies – Throw some colorful berries and spinach or kale into a blender with some plain Greek yogurt and almond milk. The berries add antioxidants and vitamin C, which boosts immunity, and the dark, leafy greens provide iron, which helps fight fatigue.

Oatmeal with cinnamon and honey – The fiber in the oats helps maintain blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full longer; the cinnamon helps relieve tension; and natural, locally grown honey is an immune system-booster.

Whole-grain toast with peanut butter – Complex carbohydrates like whole grains are digested more slowly, sending your brain a steady stream of energy, helping to stabilize your mood, and the peanut butter provides a little protein and fat. 

Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios or mixed nuts contain protein and the “good” kind of fat. Brazil nuts, cashews, black walnuts and macadamia nuts contain selenium, which is a mood-booster. Watch your portion size; nuts are calorie-dense.

Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure and control stress, thanks in large part to the antioxidants it contains. It also helps improve your mood because it increases the brain’s “happy chemicals,” serotonin and endorphins. Again, watch your portion size.

Peppermint – The smell and taste of peppermint oil can help awaken the senses, focus attention and decrease anxiety.