Twenty-first century living can be stressful. On top of the normal routine stresses of daily life, we are now connected through technology to a constant barrage of headlines, clickbait, reels, stories, tiktoks and more that are designed to keep us engaged and responsive.
Aside from taking mental and physical breaks (exercise is a huge stress-buster and mood-lifter), choosing the right foods can help your body stabilize and manage stress. Here are a few of our favorites:
1) Green-Leafy Vegetables. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collards contain folate, which helps produce neurotransmitters in the brain, providing a feeling of well-being and happiness. Green leafy vegetables also have high levels of antioxidants and bioactive nutrients such as vitamins C, E and K, beta carotene, lutein, nitrate, polyphenols, and kaempferol, which support optimal brain functioning, healthy blood pressure, immune functioning and mood. Dark, leafy greens are also a great source of magnesium, a mineral known to promote relaxation. Finally, green leafy vegetables are loaded with fiber which may lead to a reduction in anxiety, depression and stress.
2) Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) contain B vitamins that help support and adrenal health and the stress response. Nuts and seeds also contain magnesium, as mentioned above, and healthy fatty acids, discussed below.
3) Avocado. Like nuts and seeds, avocados contain stress-reducing B vitamins, as well as healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation, anxiety and stress.
4) Deep, Cold-Water Fish. Deep, cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines, also contain omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. Studies have shown that DHA provides brain support and mitigates psychological stress.
5) Citrus Fruit and Strawberries. Citrus fruits are jam-packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant which has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress in high levels. Strawberries also contain high levels of vitamin C, with seven average berries containing more vitamin C than an orange! Adding grapefruit, orange and strawberries to your diet is another good way to keep stress at bay.
6) High-Quality Dark Chocolate. This stress-buster, if consumed in small portions, contains antioxidants that help support mood and keep stress-hormones in check. An extra-added benefit of dark chocolate is that it can directly increase endorphins. We recommend choosing a high-quality dark chocolate with minimal added sugar and no added chemicals, and consuming it in moderation (1 oz. per day).
7) Herbal Tea. In addition to feeling like a warm hug in a cup, some herbal teas also provide stress-busting effects. Chamomile is one of the best-known stress-busting herbs, and creates a mellow-flavored tea. Lavender is another stress-buster, and its tea has been described as distinctive in flavor with hints of mint and rosemary, green apple, rose and earthiness.
Add any or all of the above seven stress-busters to naturally counteract some of the stresses of 21st century life!