Stress seems like an inevitable part of living in a fast-paced, ever connected world! Lifestyle changes are important but luckily there are also foods we can eat that will help support our bodies during stressful times. Eating these foods for stress will not only help minimize the damage done to our bodies but also help us respond better to stress by ensuring we have the nutrients we need. Here’s my top 5 foods to be sure to include in your diet during times of stress.
ORGANIC LEAFY GREENS: Leafy greens help our body replenish important nutrients depleted by stress like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium (Balch P. A., 2010). They’re also a great source of vitamin B6 and other B nutrients known for helping with the body’s stress response (Scott, 2011). Try including greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard in soups, smoothies, stir fries, and curries!
SEEDS AND NUTS: Seeds and nuts are full of amazing nutrients for stress. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best for stress. They are a good source of protein and also contain tryptophan, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and B vitamins (Scott, 2011). Try using pumpkin seed milk or having pumpkin seeds as a snack.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Nutritional yeast is also high in B vitamins, zinc and protein (Scott, 2011). Including snacks with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates will help you avoid those dips in blood sugar that can cause symptoms of anxiety. Nutritional yeast has a bit of a nutty/cheesy flavour so it’s perfect to sprinkle on foods like salad or noodle dishes, or adding to sauces.
FLAXSEED: Flaxseed is the highest plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids (Mateljan, 2007)! Most diets tend to have way too much Omega-6 due to the high amounts of corn-fed meat, corn, dairy, and soy in many diets (Murray & Pizzorno, 2012). An imbalanced Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio causes the production of cytokines which affects mood and inflammation. Try to cut back on Omega-6 foods and include more foods with Omega-3 like flaxseed. Ground up flaxseed is a great addition to smoothies or sprinkled onto salads. Flaxseed oil is also great for salad dressings or sauces that won’t be heated.
WHOLE GRAINS: Whole grains are better than ‘white’ grains because they contain more fiber and are better for your blood sugar due to being slower to digest. Whole grains haven’t been stripped of nutrients so they’re a good source of vitamin B6 and magnesium (Scott, 2011). You may be surprised that some whole grains also contain serotonin (Balch, Stengler, & Young-Balch, 2011)! Try to include more whole grains in your diet like brown rice, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat.
Balch, J. F., Stengler, M., & Young-Balch, R. (2011). Prescription for Natural Cures. Hoboken: Wiley.
Mateljan, G. (2007). The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation.
Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York: Atria.
Scott, T. (2011). The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.