How to Feed Your Brain to Combat Stress
Our everyday living brings an enormous amount of stress on us on a daily basis.
If not identified on time, stress can have devastating effects on our health, impacting our physical and mental wellbeing.
Too much cortisol in our bodies, a natural human response to a stressful situation, can lead to many complications. Illness, high blood pressure, headaches, and sleeping problems are just some of them.
Cortisol also affects the part of our brains responsible for thinking and focusing on goal-oriented behaviour. That’s why when we’re under stress, we find it very hard to pay attention and organize our thoughts.
Stress also impacts another important hormone, insulin, elevating the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Unfortunately, we can hardly control all the stressors around us. A healthy diet that fuels our brain and our body adequately can prevent many of these harmful effects.
These five tweaks below will improve your diet, rewire your brain and help you combat stress.
Forget About Refined Sugars and Processed Food
Refined sugar and processed food are not good for your brain, so try to avoid them.
We often use chocolate bars or energy drinks to boost our energy levels. The truth is that they only put us in a slump as they destabilize the level of sugar in our bodies, causing it to drop.
As a response, cortisol is again released, increasing the stress levels and decreasing performance.
Try to follow a healthy diet that is low in sugar and high in healthy fats, proteins, whole grains, and fibre.
To make it easier to control your diet, avoid stocking your fridge with processed and sugary foods and beverages.
Those with a sweet tooth can always enjoy dark chocolate in moderation. It will please your cravings while also reducing your stress levels, as it’s rich with antioxidants.
If you visit Health Matters store, you can get a better idea of all the healthy food choices you can indulge in that will nurture and protect your body and mind.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
An occasional cup of coffee is fine, but fueling yourself with caffeine all day long can harm your wellbeing.
While caffeine increases your serotonin levels and enhances your mood, it will also increase cortisol and adrenaline levels in the amounts like those experienced when you’re under acute stress.
Even if you’re a chronic caffeine consumer and have some physiological tolerance, you might be adding stress to stress when consuming coffee in a stressful situation. If you drink it near your bedtime, a sleepless night might follow.
Opt for tea instead, as it will calm you down. Some studies have shown that even holding a warm cup of tea can soothe you down, no matter the type of tea, as it brings feelings of friendliness and interpersonal warmth.
Also, be mindful of your alcohol intake. It’s a sedative and depressant that alters neurotransmitters in your brain, which results in addiction. Try not to give in to your impulses and resort to using alcohol as a coping mechanism, as it can cause long term harm.
Have More Omega-3s in Your Diet
Omega-3s play an essential role in combating stress and reducing your levels of anxiety. These acids, which are usually derived from fish oil, have many biological effects in your body.
Studies suggest that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may result in various behavioural and psychiatric disorders. People who took high doses of omega-3 supplements have a significant reduction in their anxiety symptoms.
You can enrich your diet and ensure you have enough of this precious compound if you have more:
- Cod liver oil,
- Chia seeds,
- Flax seeds.
Nuts Are a Perfect Snack
Walnuts are also a perfect source of omega-3, so you should have more of them on your menu. But, other nuts, such as pistachios and almonds, will help you combat stress too. They are full of nutrients, such as vitamin E, magnesium, and vitamin B.
However, since they are high in (healthy) fat and calories, limit your intake to a handful a day.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
It’s important to fuel and energize your brain and your body when you wake up, so you can adequately prepare it for a day ahead.
Go for high-fibre foods, whole grain bread, protein, and fresh fruit to stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce stress levels.
If you’re always busy in the morning, look for breakfast solutions that are easy to prepare and which will set you on the right foot.
You can combine protein and whole grains by adding a serving of whole-grain cereal to Greek yoghurt and make a yoghurt parfait.
Another simple solution is always to keep boiled eggs in your fridge, and pack them with a banana or an apple when you’re heading to work. A Smoothie is another excellent idea, as long as it’s not loaded with sugar.
Stress is, unfortunately, unavoidable, but with simple changes in your lifestyle, such as your nutrition, you can learn how to combat it.