Ease stress and boost your mood with a few dietary changes. Here are tips for enjoying the foods you love while nourishing your brain.
Tiffany struggles every morning to get out of bed. Some days she awakens in a panic. Other days she feels so exhausted that she can barely manage her way to the kitchen for her morning coffee fix. Although she often feels a little better after a couple of cups of industrial-strength Joe, she usually skips breakfast because she has no appetite.
During a mid-morning staff meeting at her job, she quiets a mild panic attack. Feeling overwhelmed with an onslaught of emails upon her return to her office, she finds it hard to focus. At lunch, she soothes her anxiety with a generous slice of fresh coffee cake and a diet soda. A few candies from the lunch break room keep her going until the end of the day. Too tired for a trip to the gym after work, she heads home.
Upon her return home, she rewards herself with a glass or two of Chardonnay and a bowl of microwave popcorn while she messages on social media. Her favorite dinners include a few slices of cheese pizza, ramen noodles or mac and cheese. A bowl of creamy, chocolate gelato peps her mood before she heads to bed. Then she tosses and turns before falling asleep. She finds it even more challenging to fall asleep after early morning awakenings which occur frequently.
Offering a quick medication fix for her ails, her primary doctor prescribes an addictive anti-anxiety medication along with a sleep aid. These provide some initial relief, but Tiffany still struggles with anxiety when her medications wear off. In short, she finds it difficult to ease stress with deep breathing exercises and other natural remedies.
Ease Stress with a Nutritional Fix
Although medications are necessary at times, simple dietary changes may solve some of these problems – without the added expense and potential side effects. Here are a few nutritional suggestions to discuss.
Please first consult your primary doctor and specialists because there can be severe interactions among foods, nutritional supplements, medical conditions, psychiatric conditions and medications.
The brain needs adequate protein to function optimally and ease stress. Also, protein helps to stabilize blood-sugar levels. Although Tiffany did not have an official diagnosis of hypoglycemia or diabetes, the inadequate protein and excessive carbohydrate consumption may have caused her blood sugar to drop. Blood sugar dives can mimic panic symptoms.
An organ with a high fat density, the brain requires monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil, avocados, nuts) to thrive. Be careful: saturated fats (found in dairy and meat( or trans fats (found in hydrogenated oils such as margarine) can actually impair cognitive functioning.
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables pack power of nutrition with fewer calories. Fiber-rich, they also help to maintain a healthy gut, which can help to ease stress.
Everyday stress can deplete B vitamins. Eat a healthy assortment of these B-vitamin rich foods including beans, seeds and greens. If you fall short of these ideals, try some nutritional supplements, including a B-complex vitamin.
Even sun worshippers need to mind their D3 levels, which many primary doctors measure in routine blood tests. Deficiencies in this vitamin may contribute to depression and anxiety.
Magnesium and Calcium
Mild magnesium deficiencies are prevalent worldwide. Here are some ideas to reduce anxiety with excellent food sources of magnesium. Magnesium, nature’s tranquilizer can be a very effective aid to ease stress.
Eat a variety of foods that rich in probiotics. Make sure you eat plenty of fiber (many serve as effective prebiotics) as well. You may wish to consider probiotic and prebiotic supplements.
Tiffany noticed a dramatic improvement in her anxiety when she made a few changes in her daily food plan. Starting her day with a lower calorie protein shake and a few supplements, she had more energy at her job. Balancing her carbs with lean proteins and healthy fats kept her blood sugar levels steady. Then she had more energy to make it to the gym after work several days a week. Pleased to learn that dark chocolate can nourish the brain, she replaced her glasses of wine and gelatos with a generous piece of dark chocolate during the week. On her weekends and special occasions, she indulged a bit. Overall, she feels less anxious and more energetic.
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