Instead of medicine, try food to ease stress
By Jessica, Pure Matters
September is a busy month, whether you’re heading back to school, prepping a little one for classes, or just getting back to business after a leisurely summer. I haven’t stepped foot in a classroom in a long time, but fall always gets me back into work mode. I suddenly have places to go, people to see, and a to-do list a mile long. And with an amped-up schedule comes stress.
We all have tools to help us stay calm. For example, I have a whiteboard in my office where I write mantras to remind myself not to get too stressed out (Current mantra: “Setbacks are not failures”). But did you know that you probably have some tools right in your kitchen? Read on for five superfoods that will help you fight anxiety, so you can keep calm and carry on.
There’s a strong link between magnesium and mental health. A deficiency in this nutrient can cause irritability, depression and anxiety, and guess what? Most of us don’t get enough. Oats are one of the best food sources of magnesium, and the fiber helps sustain your good mood. When you know you have a high-stress day ahead of you, make some time for breakfast, but skip the instant oatmeal -- you’ll only get the benefits from the real deal.
The better your mood, the better able to tackle obstacles you’ll be. Vitamin C is a superstar when it comes to giving you a boost, and one serving of broccoli contains more than 100 percent of your daily requirement! Try lightly steaming it and then tossing it with omega-3-rich extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and some crushed red pepper for a stress-free side dish.
When we get stressed, it isn’t just our mind that suffers. Anxiety takes a toll on the rest of our body as well, and all of the energy we’re spending on worrying wears us down. Zinc helps us keep our guard up by strengthening the immune system; it also helps to regulate blood sugar, keeping us on an even keel. Pumpkin seeds are high in this nutrient, so keep some on you for snacking when you start to feel overwhelmed.
While post-Thanksgiving-dinner sleepiness is usually a case of carb-loading more than the tryptophan in turkey, this nutrient does have a calming effect. Tryptophan affects serotonin levels, and the more you have, the better you’ll sleep and the better your mood will be. Chicken contains even more of it than turkey, so pack your lunchtime salad with protein and you’ll have a happier, more productive afternoon. Vegetarian? Snack on some edamame for the same effect.
B vitamins are important when it comes to regulating moods -- especially folate and B-12. Eggs are a great source of both, and since they’re also chock-full of protein, they’ll help you stay calm for longer. If you’re an egg white person, though, you might want to reconsider, as the yolks are where the nutrients live. If you don’t have time to make an omelet for breakfast, pack up a hard-boiled egg for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
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