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Stress-Fighting Foods

Stress is, unfortunately, a part of everyday life - especially when you are trying to balance a relationship, kids, extended family, a social life and a career. There are a number of things you can do to lower your stress level, including exercise, meditation, and deep breathing, but you may not know that eating certain foods can help you chill out too. So when you're feeling the strain of your hectic life, check out the following list of stress-busting foods.

  • Complex carbohydrates - Eating complex carbs causes your brain to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you regulate anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, and sleep. Good sources of complex carbs include whole grains (such as bread, pasta, and cereal), and vegetables such as broccoli, leafy greens, and bananas.

  • Magnesium - Magnesium helps you fight stress, sleep better, and your muscles to relax. Foods high in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Almonds are a great source of magnesium (as well as stress-fighting vitamin B2, zinc and vitamin E).

  • Vitamin B Complex - All of the B vitamins (B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5, B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12) help you regulate moods and emotions by facilitating your brain's neurotransmitters, and studies have shown they can help reduce stress and combat depression. The best sources of B vitamins include fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but this family of vitamins is most beneficial when consumed in the proper balance, so a vitamin supplement that contains all of them is recommended. Fish is rich in vitamins B6 and B12, making it a great stress-fighting choice for dinner.

  • Vitamin C - Our bodies cannot store vitamin C, so we need a regular supply to keep our immune systems healthy, particularly during times of stress when we can become run-down and vulnerable to illness. In addition, nicotine, caffeine and birth control pills can rob your body of vitamin C, so be sure to eat plenty of citrus fruits or take a supplement that contains vitamin C.

  • Calcium - Stress depletes your body of calcium, a nutrient that is especially important to consume during times of stress as it helps to relax your muscles, particularly when combined with magnesium. So drink an extra glass of milk or eat a cup of cottage cheese as a healthy and stress-fighting snack.

Many times, when we are stressed, we tend to give in to quick-fix indulgences, such as alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, or that sweet afternoon treat. But all of these items can backfire and leave you feeling worse than before.

  • Caffeine - Drinking caffeinated sodas, tea or coffee can actually increase your feelings of stress by causing your body to release adrenaline, something you are already producing plenty of during times of stress. In fact, studies have shown that consuming too much caffeine has the same effect on your body as long term stress and robs your body of important nutrients such as calcium and vitamin C.

  • Refined sugars - Sugary treats may give you a quick hit of energy, but you'll crash soon after and may experience anxiety, depression, shakiness and problems concentrating.

  • Alcohol - Alcohol is a form of simple sugar, so it affects your blood sugar similarly. In addition, it depletes your body of B vitamins and stimulates your body to secrete adrenaline, causing you to feel tense, irritable and have problems sleeping.

  • Cigarettes - Cigarettes increase your blood pressure and heart rate, which are already elevated during times of stress. Not to mention the numerous other health risks associated with smoking.

 


 

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