I've been talking a lot about stress lately. It's for a good reason! As I mentioned in a video last week on my Facebook page (check out Simply Well Health Coaching if you haven't already!), stress-related issues are responsible (directly or indirectly) for between 75% and 90% of all doctors visits. That's a huge number!
Not only can low-level chronic stress contribute to physical ailments, it can also rob us of the enjoyment of our day-to-day lives and leave us "can't wait-ing" our lives away (you know what I'm talking about: "I can't wait for the weekend," or "I can't wait for my vacation...I just have to make it until then!").
One of the things I love about working with my clients, is helping them see the possibility of living a life they truly love every day by learning how to realistically manage and cope with stress in a productive and effective way.
While managing our external circumstances and our mindset can go a long way to minimize and cope with stress, we often don't recognize that what we put into our bodies can either create more stress or help alleviate it.
So, to get you started (or confirm that you're on the right track), here's four foods you'll want to include in your regular diet to help combat stress:
1. Avocado: This amazing fruit is packed with B-vitamins, among other nutrients, that are vital for healthy nerves and brain cells. In fact, it has been suggested that feelings of anxiety may be caused by B-vitamin deficiency. Avocados are also packed with healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium (even more than bananas!!), which help to lower blood pressure. Not a fan of avocado? You can always blend them in a smoothie or throw them in homemade banana ice-cream to get the stress-busting benefits without the taste or texture if you're not a fan.
2. Seeds (my faves?? Chia, Flax and Hemp): These little guys pack a serious nutrient punch. The reason they are so helpful in the fight against stress is they're full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These are essential fatty acids that our bodies can't produce on their own and are known to help reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration and improve mood. They're also full of protein and fibre...what more could you ask for? Add these seeds to smoothies, salads, dressings or oatmeal for a nutrient boost and to help reduce stress.
3. Leafy Greens: Spinach isn't only good for building strong muscles a la Popeye! These greens and others (like swiss chard and kale) are full of magnesium which is known to help reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being. In addition to salads, you can add these greens to casseroles, and sautéed as a side-dish. And let's not forget the trendy green smoothie. While trendy, it's also an easy and quick way to get several servings of these nutrient dense veggies!
4. Blueberries: I'm sure it's no surprise to you that these delicious berries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. But why are these important for stress-reduction? Stress can cause cellular damage. Vitamin C and antioxidants are necessary for the repair and protection of our cells. A small handful of blueberries can go a long way to mitigating the effects of stress. Eat them with oatmeal, in a smoothie, or on their own, but be sure to buy organic if you can as berries are often pesticide-laden.
While this list is not by any means complete or exhaustive, it's just meant to be a friendly reminder that it doesn't need to be hard to make small, positive changes to help you proactively manage stress. Every little bit helps! Include these foods in your regular daily diet to set yourself up for success before the stress even hits!
I'm cheering for you!
To your health,