So many things can cause stress. Wouldn’t it be great if your diet helped you reduce your stress? Well, it can!
We who have autoimmune disorders need to be careful with our diet and nutrition. Stress can cause flares and inflammation, so if eating a well-balanced diet with foods that may reduce the chance of extra flares and inflammation then we should consider it.
Cortisol – The Stress Hormone
Cortisol is one of the steroid hormones and is made in the adrenal glands. Most cells within the body have cortisol receptors. Secretion of the hormone is controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland.
What Does Cortisol Do?
Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” because of its connection to the stress response, however, cortisol is much more than just a hormone released during stress. Understanding cortisol and its affect on the body will help you balance your hormones and achieve good health.
Foods and Beverages that Can Reduce Stress
Your diet and nutrition choices can make your stress levels go up or down. Certain foods provide comfort and actually increase levels of hormones in the body that naturally fight stress. Other types of foods and beverages can reduce stress by lowering the levels of hormones that trigger it.
I enjoy a warm cup of green tea. I drink it plain, but I find it very soothing. Holding the warm cup in my hands is also good for the circulation in my fingers.
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits.
Most of you may find relief by indulging in dark chocolate. I am not that lucky. Chocolate for me has the opposite effect. I gave up eating chocolate about 20 years ago because the agitation it brought to me was pretty bad. When I eat chocolate it makes me very very irritable. One little thing would set me off and I became a Jekyll and Hyde. The effects of the chocolate would last about eight hours. Those who knew me well, knew to keep their distance.
For those of you who don’t have an intolerance for chocolate, enjoy! Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, and can help to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body, according to a Swiss study in which participants ate about 1.5 ounces per day for two weeks.
We need B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells, and feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. Bonus Points: They’re also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help lower blood pressure.
I have a sensitivity to this wonderful food. The few times I have eaten it I did enjoy the taste and texture. Avocados make my lips and tongue tingle and causes my throat to close up.
These little blue fruits are my favorite! I eat about a cup of blueberries every day. I eat them frozen, add them to my smoothies, and eat them in a fruit salad with strawberries and banana. Yum!
This fruit may seem small, but just a handful packs a powerful punch of antioxidants and vitamin C, making them mighty stress-busters.
Get some stress-relief munching on almonds, which are rich in vitamins B2 and E. Both of these nutrients help bolster the immune system during times of stress. Just a quarter cup of almonds each day will start driving the stress away.
I love spinach. Adding it to my salads or to an omelette adds color, texture and comfort. Leafy greens may not be your idea of comfort food, but spinach can have a comforting effect. Spinach is packed with magnesium, the mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels and promote feelings of well-being.
Put more fish on your dish to help you feel at ease. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you’re feeling tense.
Action Steps: Share which of these stress reducing foods are your favorite? Please leave your comment below.