Feeling anxious, run-down, or just plain blah? Eat up! We eat at least three times a day, leaving numerous opportunities for us to de-stress. Foods containing essential nutrients and vitamins may help you combat stress by improving mood and decreasing anxiety.
A happy diet includes sources of these essential nutrients:
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Research shows that Vitamin D receptors abound in the brain and may play an important role in neurotransmission and regulation. If you have deficient Vitamin D levels (those in more northern climates are at higher risk), you may have a harder time regulating your stress levels. Increase your dietary Vitamin D and get a daily dose of sunshine. You also may want to consider supplementation.
Best sources of Vitamin D: dairy products, fatty fish, oysters
Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked with depression, fatigue and poor memory — all of which can get in the way of handling life’s many stressors. Try to up your Vitamin B12 intake to maximize your energy level and mood balance.
Best sources of Vitamin B12: beef liver, clams, salmon, tuna, trout
Omega 3 fatty acids are great for overall cardiovascular and brain health. But some research points to an additional benefit — omega 3 intake — can help combat stress. This study divided 68 medical students into two groups: an Omega 3 supplement group and a control placebo group. The group that took Omega 3s reported a 20% decrease in anxiety symptoms.
Best sources of Omega 3s: fatty coldwater fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, shellfish, organ meats.
Did someone say chocolate?
The flavonoids in cocoa have antioxidant properties and cocoa has been shown to promote feelings of satiety, cognitive function and mood. Keep it moderate, though. It may not come as a surprise that overindulgence in chocolate, even the good kind, can be associated with weight gain.
More Interesting Facts About Diet and Stress
Women age 45 and older who experience chronic stress tend to report a low intake of vegetables. If you suspect you need to up your fresh produce intake, you probably do. Try to make at least half of each meal plate fruit and veggies to ensure adequate nutrient intake. Use spaghetti squash instead of pasta or cabbage for a veggie-packed stir-fry.
Processed food intake has a strong link to anxiety. Try cutting out the packaged foods by cooking at home and making your own snacks. Kiss high-fructose corn syrup goodbye and say hello to feeling more balanced.
What’s the take-home message here?
A diet high in vegetables, coldwater fish and organ meats and low in processed foods is optimal for your mental health. Check here for some delectable veggie recipes and try to incorporate more fish into your weekly diet. If you’re feeling adventurous, dabble in the organ meat arena. The proof is in the pudding (and by pudding, I mean research.)