The best way to reduce stress is to eat a balanced diet. Being stressed out all the time can lead to deficiencies in the immune system, which makes it difficult for the body to defend itself from illnesses and disease. Eating a balanced diet ensures the health of the immune system.
We often resort to eating when we experience stress. But most of the time, the kind of diet we dig in doesn't do much to keep our body in shape. This is because most comfort foods that are easily available and quick to prepare are loaded with salt, sugar, and fat—or in short, cCredit: Some rights reserved by Livin' Spoonful: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59030623@N03/8633126050/sizes/n/in/photostream/alories.
High calorie food acts on brain chemicals that are responsible for making us feel good, which is why we get addicted to eating junk when we are stressed. For example, physiological evidences suggest that sugar and starch catalyzes the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that triggers a sense of well-being and happiness. On the other hand, salty comfort foods create oxytoxin, which is often referred to as the "love hormone."
But comfort foods merely have palliative effect on stress and could even worsen it on the long term, especially when cravings lead to overeating which then causes unwanted weight gain.
Although we could not entirely cure stress, the best we could do is to avoid it and reduce its effects on our body as soon as we decide to eat a balanced diet that includes the following important food groups.
Lean protein from poultry, egg, seafood, beef and pork will not only easily satisfy your hunger, thus, preventing you from overeating junk; protein also keeps you mentally alert, helping you solve the problems that are causing your stress.
In addition, meat from shellfish has zinc, which when found deficient in the body may cause oxidative stress, most especially among the elderly.
Fruits and vegetables
A study in the United States shows that people who are under stress use up more vitamins and minerals. With that in mind, it is important for us to eat a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables to make up for the lost vitamins and minerals when we are stressed.
Fruits and vegetables are perfect alternative to comfort food. Crunchy snacks are said to reduce stress but instead of munching on chips, try eating almonds, soy nuts or carrots as stress reducer. Complete that with a cup of herbal tea and you will find yourself more relaxed.
Green vegetables rich in minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium calm the minds and make you feel peaceful. Fruits such as banana and lemon, on the other hand, activate your nerve cells to reduce tension.
Also rich in iron are cereals and cornflakes. Iron is important for brain growth. It also strengthens memory, which aids your problem-solving skills. Yeast and curds relaxes the brain.
To conclude, stress is an unavoidable part of life. It is in fact, a natural response of the body to something that may endanger or threaten us. When we are stressed, our body is telling us to be alert and focused. While being occasionally stressed is reasonable, chronic stress is considered unhealthy and may lead to fatigue or depression. It is important to eat a balanced diet to defend our body whenever stress happens to come around.