Stress to de-stress - Top foods that helps to relieve stress

Eat right to De-Stress
By : Purple Kaddu Posted on :

‘STRESS’ . The word ‘stress’ seems to be an umbrella word. Everybody uses it so freely. ‘I am getting married. I feel stressed’ , ‘These exams were so stressful, I need a break’ , ‘I have a pimple break-out, I guess I am stressed’. But, what exactly is stress ? Stress is your response to any unwanted situation or discomfort. It’s the sense of having little or no control. For eg. change in atmospheric temperature, running a race, change of job , exposure to pollution etc.

Stress can be positive or negative. It can be the driving force for your performance or just break you down. It varies from person to person. It is experienced in ‘n’ number of situations.

For now, let’s focus on stress experienced as a professional. Whether you are a salesman, a tailor, an engineer or a shopkeeper, you are bound to face stressors such as increasing workload, long work hours, monotonous work,poor opportunity for promotion etc. Such stressors could at times harm you biologically. Weight gain, early aging, addiction, anxiety, food cravings,infertility are some of the hidden hazards of professionalism, the root cause being stress.

So what happens when my body is stressed ? Body is signaled to release cortisol, a hormone. Cortisol increases blood sugar level (to provide immediate source of energy), causes thinning of arteries (to increase blood supply for faster delivery of oxygen) and is also the reason for indigestion. If the body remains over and ever-stressed, blood sugar levels will always be high (diabetes), blood pressure will be high (hypertension). Due to indigestion, inflammation , nutrient deficiency and immunity problems will occur. Body craves for high fat and high sugar foods leading to weight gain, inflammation and thus depression (since brain cells are affected).

If we zero-in on professionals who follow a sedentary lifestyle. For eg. people whose job demands them to be glued to a screen and desktop, they are likely to suffer from excess screen time ie. spending most of their time in front of a screen - laptop, tablet , computer screen , TV, mobile phone etc. Excess screen time has been reported to increase the level of ghrelin.  Ghrelin, a peptide hormone secreted by stomach stimulates feelings of hunger, inducing cravings for fat and sugar loaded foods. This could be another reason for putting on weight just by sitting in front of a screen.  Their body is stationed at the same place, same position and same four walls. The monotony may also cause stress to some - Solution ?

A cup of coffee ? A cigarette ? Scrolling through social media sites ( which will add-on to your screen time) OR a short walk ? Some fresh air and some chatting with the colleague next door ?

If you select the first options, you are doing more bad than good to yourself. You will end up feeling more exhausted than refreshed.Eat foods which are known to combat stress !!  We just need to lower that hunger stimulating hormone level, stabilize mood and other metabolic disturbances. There are certain foods which increase the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, related to mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin can also affect functioning of heart. Following foods are known to provide relieve from fatigue and inflammation. Try and include such foods to de-stress.

Oats are said to kickstart serotonin production. It gives a feeling of calmness. You could begin your day with some oats.

Milk contains calcium which is known to reduce anxiety and mood swings. I guess that’s why a glass of milk is suggested for bedtime. Curd contains lactobacillus which will help balance gut micro flora, thus improving gut health.

Healthy fats i.e. Omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed, fish and walnuts prevent surge in stress hormones. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to reduce inflammation.

Cashewnuts are a good source of zinc. Zinc is partly involved in production of dopamine, which boosts mood and energy. 

Almonds and pistachios protect against effects of stress, besides  reducing cholesterol level. You could thus incorporate nuts and oilseeds as your mid-meal snacks.

Vitamin C rich fruits such as oranges are sweet juicy and stress busters which can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. 

Spinach contains magnesium which plays an important role to calm your nerves.

Munching raw veggies can help relieve a clenched jaw, thus ease stress in a mechanical way. As a desktop professional, most of your day will be spent in typing and reading more than talking. Thus , salads could help the jaws perform their job!

Black tea contains polyphenol  theanine. Studies have reported that black tea drinkers ( 4 cups/d) had lower levels of stress hormones post stressful situations.

Dark chocolate consumption has reported a reduction in level of stress hormones. Thus, a bar of dark chocolate will not only treat your taste buds, but also help reduce stress.

Spices such as ginger, turmeric etc are said to be anti-inflammatory thus protecting you from effects of stress. Black pepper inhalation could help you stay off cigarettes, sucking cloves can curb alcohol craving. Be self-motivated! Health you craved for lifelong or a moment of satisfaction. It’s your call.

And don’t forget the 4 most important parts of any remedy  - Water , Exercise, Sleep and Time management. Get enough of these. Always be aware of your stressors and don’t just give into cravings. Let the coffee mug stare at you! It’s temporary.

A professional who requires to travel ( intra or inter city) , or a person working in a cafe or a beautician will face other kind of difficulties, in terms of diet. They fall into a moderately active category of professionals as opposed to the sedentary desktop professionals we just discussed. Different professions, different needs. Stay tuned, to know more about tricks and tips of combating dietary problems associated with on-the-toes professionals.

Food to De Stress, Stress related diseases, Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Hypertension