eat these foods today to help you stay calm and composed
Stress affects a staggering 79% of Brits every month (1), with feelings of anxiety and depression also being common. In fact, research has found that one in 14 adults experiences stress every single day (2).
Whether it’s caused by work, family, relationships or social pressures, stress can wreak havoc on our health (3).
Not only can it disrupt our mood, making us irrational, worried and unhappy, but in the long term it can also play a huge part in the state of our physical health (4).
Stress has been associated with heart disease (5), stroke and various cancers, as well as obesity (6), which in itself can be the trigger behind a wealth of health issues (7).
Whilst short term stress isn’t so much of a problem, it’s the long term, chronic stress that causes havoc.
When our body experiences stress, a hormone called cortisol is released but a continuous abundance of cortisol can lead to various problems and it’s not just conditions such as the ones mentioned above, but also hair loss, sleep problems and even muscle pain (8).
The foods we eat, whilst they may not necessarily stop stress, can help lessen the impact it has on our body (9). Add these foods to your diet and reap the stress-busting benefits
Whether it be sardines, salmon, mackerel or herring, oily fish can have a positive impact on our body and stress levels.
It’s the omega-3 fatty acids in fish that provide these benefits, as they have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body (10). Inflammation, especially long-term inflammation, is something that generally, is best avoided. Stress triggers this inflammation, which in turn can lead to heart disease, fatty liver disease and kidney disease, to name a few (11). Try smoked salmon for breakfast, sardines on toast for lunch or a mackerel salad for dinner.
Good news for chocolate lovers, as the dark stuff is rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps to reduce inflammation caused by stress as well as helping to relax the body and mind.
Research has found that magnesium could have an impact on the hypothalamus (12), the part of the brain that helps us manage stress levels.
Try Eat Natural’s Darker Chocolate with Almonds and Apricots; a blend of dark chocolate, sweet apricots, crunchy pumpkin seeds as well as coconut shreds and creamy almonds.
Bananas and broccoli
It’s the magnesium in these foods that can help with stress levels, however both of these contain other healthy nutrients too.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which studies have found to be helpful in lessening the likelihood of depression (13), whilst broccoli contains an abundance of vitamin c, which research shows can help with mood boosting (14).
Nuts and seeds
A handful of these crunchy morsels can offer some de-stress benefits. In particular, Brazil nuts, almonds and cashew nuts. These not only contain good amounts of healthy, unsaturated fats, which help lower inflammation levels, but they also contain other stress-busting vitamins and minerals (15). Brazil nuts contain the mineral selenium, known for improving mood (16), whilst almonds and cashews contain magnesium.
On the move? Try an Eat Natural Almond & Sultana Bar WIth Peanuts & Apricots for a tasty hit of nuts along with fruit.
Protein rich foods
Foods such as chicken, eggs, turkey, fish, beef, lentils and tofu contain protein.
Protein also contains the amino acid, tryptophan, low levels of which have been associated with a low mood. This is down to the body converting tryptophan into the good-mood hormone, serotonin (18).Tryptophan is an ‘essential’ amino acid, meaning that it can’t be made by our body, so therefore we need to ensure we’re getting enough through our diet.
An easy addition to your diet, this creamy food has been associated with a healthier gut thanks to the gut-loving probiotics it contains. With research pointing towards a strong connection between the gut and brain, it makes sense that we take care of our gut for a clearer mind, less stress and a happier mood. Plus, studies have found that 70% of our immune system is based in the gut (20), so to help stay healthy and swerve illness, make gut health a priority. Try Greek yoghurt for breakfast or add to a smoothie for a thicker consistency.
It might not be to everyone’s taste (try it with a little drizzle of honey to help sweeten it up!) but a drink of matcha is a powerful addition to your diet. It’s all thanks to the L-theanine it contains, a compound that’s proven to help with stress (21). Although matcha does contain caffeine, which can spike our cortisol levels, this caffeine doesn’t affect the body quite as much as the caffeine in coffee as l-theanine slows down its effect (22).
It might not be a food you’ve heard of before but it could make a difference to stress levels. Kimchi is essentially fermented cabbage and radish. The fermentation of these vegetables encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. It goes back to good ol’ gut health again, with fermented foods being linked to improved mental health (23). Enjoy a small amount of kimchi on the side of a salad or as a snack in the day.
 https://www.ciphr.com/workplace-stress-statistics/  https://www.ciphr.com/workplace-stress-statistics/  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3428710/  https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037  https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2382  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257651/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7147972/  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390811003054?via%3Dihub  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18466657/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6071228/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s41110-019-0108-3?error=cookies_not_supported&code=6a89af4c-328d-4e78-a66c-4fde3820f8a1  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728667/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728667/