Stress often happens when we can’t seem to keep up with life’s demands.
When the fight or flight response is constantly activated, the body’s ability to ward off disease decreases. Prolonged stress has a negative impact on our emotions, our immune system functioning, cardiovascular health and gut microflora. While our body can adapt to stress, it can only do so to a certain extent. This is where nutrients in food come in handy. Many nutrients are found to help the organism cope with high-stress levels. If you need help keeping stress under control, try eating these 6 nutritious foods.
- Parmesan cheese
A hundred grams of parmesan cheese contains almost 2000 mg of tyrosine, an essential amino acid important for the development of neurotransmitters. Stress depletes levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine which is responsible for the feelings of pleasure. Stress also depletes the levels of the norepinephrine which can lead to a decrease in cognitive performance. Stress caused by sleep deprivation can result in performance decline and low mood. One study found that tyrosine supplements counteracted the negative effects of sleep deprivation. So, if you can’t get your regular dose of sleep and it is impacting your stress levels, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over your dishes.
Broccoli is a rich source of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) which is a powerful antioxidant. ALA is said to prevent the accumulation of catecholamines in heart and vascular tissue. High levels of catecholamines are associated with stress which can cause the degradation of certain neurotransmitters. Eating ALA-rich foods such as broccoli can prevent degradation of mental functioning caused by prolonged stress. ALA is also said to reduce the suppression of helper T-cell activity caused by high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Broccoli also belongs to anti-inflammatory foods which help in warding off degenerative diseases.
Soybeans are very popular among non-meat eaters because they are rich in all essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, iron, and calcium. Soybeans also contain phosphatidylserine which scientists believe might counteract overstimulation of the HPA axis caused by stress. A study on soybean-derived phosphatidylserine administered to males who underwent resistance training resulted in lower levels of cortisol. To get the full stress-reducing benefits of this compound, you will need to take at least 600 to 800 mg daily.
Blueberries are a popular superfood due to their benefits on memory and cognition. These benefits are believed to be a result of antioxidants called anthocyanins. But besides preventing your brain from going foggy in times of stress, the vitamin C content in blueberries can also prevent stress from happening in the first place. A randomized control trial that involved 120 test subjects examined the effects of high doses of vitamin C on psychological and physiological stress. A half of the subjects were given vitamin C supplements and the other half a placebo for 14 days. Compared to the placebo group, the group given vitamin C had faster salivary cortisol recovery and lower blood pressure.
Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for normal brain functioning. While omega-3 fatty acids might not have any direct effect on stress, they do help in brain cell renewal that might be damaged due to prolonged stress. Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve your overall mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and also depressive symptoms. The low mood in itself tends to cause undue stress which is why having good mental is important to be able to keep stress under control.
Eggs contain plenty of glutamine which is an essential amino acid that we need in fighting stress, anxiety and depression. Glutamine levels become depleted during high levels of stress and low levels of glutamine worsen symptoms of stress, thus causing a never ending cycle. Getting enough essential amino acids when you are under a lot of pressure is extremely important for normal brain functioning. Glutamine also increases the levels of the neurotransmitter GABA that inhibits the stress response in the brain.
While food alone cannot keep stress at bay, it can help our body remain strong during stressful times. Stress puts the body under a lot of strain which is why it is so important to support the body with nutrients. These nutrients help keep the central nervous system healthy and focused and the adrenal system calm. So, next time you are feeling stressful, introduce these 6 foods into your diet.