Written by Sana Rao
You’re going to have some stress in your life — we all do, and it’s normal. One of the best things you can do for your health is managing that stress, even when you can’t control the source of it. Some stress can be good. It can be a challenge that keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. But too much stress can make us sick. And it can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases, research shows.
If you’re constantly under stress, you can have physical symptoms, such as headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and problems with sex and sleep. Stress can also lead to emotional problems, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry. It’s not just the stress itself that’s the problem. It’s how you respond to it. For instance, if you smoke, use drugs, overeat, gamble, spend too much, that’s going to cause more problems.
Healthy Food Choices
One of the therapeutic modalities mentioned in Stress Management is to adopt a nutritious diet. Proper diet can counterbalance the impact of stress by strengthening the immune system, stabilizing moods, and reducing blood pressure. A recent study discovered that organic fruit and vegetables have up to 50% more antioxidants (good stuff), which scientists believe could cut the risk of cancer and heart disease significantly. The study also claimed that organic food has more minerals such as iron and zinc, which also do the body good. Foods can help tame stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oats (spelt flakes, rye flakes, quinoa flakes and many other alternatives), boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
Important Organic Nutrients for Stress-Reduction
Vitamin C:Consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and other citrus fruits, Baobab powder, figs, kale and many more can reduce stress and boost the immune system. Intake of this vitamin can help lower the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
Complex Carbohydrates:Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can induce the brain to increase serotonin production and stabilizing blood pressure as a way to reduce stress.
Magnesium:Obtaining an adequate amount of magnesium is essential for avoiding headaches and fatigue. Oral magnesium can also successfully relieve premenstrual mood changes. Additionally, increased magnesium intake has been found to improve sleep quality in older adults. Healthy sources of magnesium include spinach or other leafy greens, and legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:Nuts and seeds (such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds walnuts, and pistachios) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce surges of stress hormones and also confer protection against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
Higher levels of carotenoids have been reported in organic sweet peppers, yellow plums, tomatoes, and carrots. However, studies in this area have produced inconsistent results, possibly due to differences in the soil types and fertilizers and pesticides being analyzed, which are thought to have an effect on carotenoid levels.
Carotenoids function as a type of antioxidant that can prevent disease and aid the immune system. Some carotenoids can also be converted into vitamin A, which is essential in growth, the enhanced function of the immune system and overall eye health.
Levels of phenolic compounds have been shown to be higher in organic food. Phenolic compounds have antioxidant, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. The consumption of polyphenols through fruit and vegetables has been linked to a lower incidence of coronary heart disease, and reduces oxidative stress.
Organic foods have proved beneficial in reducing stress.