Food And Drink To Combat

Are you stressed out? Are you running on empty? Do you skip meals simply because you never seem to have enough hours in the day to sit down and refuel? If you’ve answered yes to all three questions, the chances are you’re already trapped in a vicious circle of unremitting stress. You may also be relying upon a diet that lacks the types of foods that can actually reduce your stress levels.

The fact of the matter is that certain foods can bolster the immune system and act as great stress-busters. And the good news is that simply increasing one’s intake of such food items can have a marked effect on how we cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life.

So, which foods have the thumbs up as stress-busters? Opt for foods containing:

Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

Foods containing polyunsaturated fats help reduce the risk of heart disease, a condition associated with stress. Oily fish, such as mackerel and tuna, are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Pantothenic Acid (B5), often dubbed the “anti-stress” vitamin can be found in a wide range of food items including beef, pork, liver, kidneys, fish, fresh vegetables, nuts, whole wheat and rye flour and brewer’s yeast. Dandelion leaves are also a good source of Pantothenic Acid!

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C, arguably the single most important anti-stress nutrient, is vital for boosting the immune system. Now, stress is known to deplete the body of this essential vitamin. Fresh fruits, vegetables, (particularly broccoli and new potatoes, cooked in their skins) and fresh herbs are all high in Vitamin C.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for nerve transmission as well as the proper functioning of the heart. And, apart from its various other functions, such as helping the body absorb iron and magnesium, more effectively, calcium has also been shown to aid relaxation and to reduce tension in the body. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese and yoghurt.

Magnesium

Magnesium acts as a natural tranquilliser. This important mineral can be found in meats, cereals, dairy products, shell fish such as shrimps, fruits, vegetables (particularly spinach and pumpkin), nuts including almonds and cashews, soy beans and, would you believe it, even in chocolate!

Potassium

Potassium is important for the physiological functions of the body that affect stress levels. Foods high in potassium include meats, vegetables, fruits, cereals and milk.

Zinc

Another essential mineral that can help reduce tension in the body, zinc can be found in a number of food items such as beef, chicken, sardines and oysters.

Iron

Iron plays a vital role in the functioning of the nerves and muscles, which, in turn, have a direct impact on how the body copes with stress. Sources of iron include red meats, fish, poultry, cereals, green leaf vegetables, wholemeal bread and egg yolk.

And finally…what to drink (and what not to drink) in order to de-stress…

The irony is that when we’re stressed, tired, and tensions are running high, we tend to over-indulge in alcohol and caffeine which, as we all know, only serves to crank up our stress levels! We’d be better off substituting that extra cup of caffeine-laden tea or coffee with natural fruit or vegetable juices, or even a soothing banana “smoothie” or a glass of calcium-fortified soya milk. Herbal teas, such as camomile or dandelion can have an immediate calming effect, in times of stress. And, there’s no harm in a glass or two of wine (preferably red and organically produced) provided, of course, that we imbibe in moderation.