A very stressful period I had recently made me think much about how we all face this scourge. It’s eating us away slowly and, sadly, when we realize the signs of it, it needs a lot of work to throw off.
There were always situations that cause stress; every era has its own. Us, in Greece today we have a surplus. Endless to do lists, unpaid bills, the irritation and rudeness you meet everywhere and of course the web addiction. In the latest issue of the Greek magazine VIMAgazino, in an article about stress, the symptoms listed were 50! Quite a number, isn’t it?
The same article refers, that what matter is the intensity of stress in which we live in. In small doses it is considered harmless and, actually, it is usually during these periods when we are more productive. This, in my opinion, is the trap. Because as long as it flares up and is established within you, you think the problem is that the day has only 24 hours … No! The problem is that stress causes hormone production and the continuous stress in large doses can become devastating to our health, creating new diseases or aggravating existing ones.
Research at the University of Pennsylvania showed that people who do not control their stress have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies. Inflammation is directly associated with diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity. In the list of stress effects, among others, are diseases of the digestive and respiratory systems. Moreover, certainly stress is one reason that you do not lose weight easily.
Stress is inevitable. But changing the way we face everyday stress would help and relief our body. Beyond of learning to say no, relaxing more often, thinking less and laugh more, one must be nourished properly. From my part, this is the help I can give you: 12 foods that fight stress:
Dark Chocolate: Starting with the best 😀 . Well, dark chocolate, when consumed in moderation, can relieve the symptoms of stress. That’s because the flavonoids and polyphenols contained in it have, inter alia, calming properties. Chocolate also contains phenethylamine, a mood enhancer. Antioxidants in chocolate cause “relaxation” of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improve blood circulation. The “darker” the chocolate, the richer it is in these substances. Therefore prefer those containing from 70% cocoa and above.
Blueberries: My favorite! Blueberries are one of the foods with the higher content of anthocyanin, an antioxidant which, among others, sharpens cognition. Their high content of antioxidants counteracts in the production of cortisol, the number one chemical substance produced by the body during stressful periods. In addition, all berries, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, etc., are very rich in vitamin C, which are proven to fights stress.
Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids contained in salmon have the ability to reverse the symptoms of stress by enhancing serotonin and reduce the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. An amount of 90 g. approx. can offer 2,000mg Omega-3 fatty acids, twice the amount recommended by the American Heart Organization to patients suffering from heart disease. These fatty acids aid with brain function, meaning that you’ll have the mental acuity to keep your head when everything is going crazy around you. Flax seeds are also high in omega-3s.
Walnuts: If you belong to those who often see their blood pressure gets ascending then nuts are a great snack for you. Eating 30 g. of nuts per day will keep your blood pressure at normal levels, as well as stress levels. Moreover, alpha-linolenic acid (one of the omega-3 fatty acids) contained in walnuts, as well as polyphenols, prevent memory loss.
Oats: Complex carbohydrates contained in oats help to produce serotonin, the hormone that reduces negative symptoms of stress. The fiber contained in oats in large quantity, help the body to absorb serotonin at a slower rate, so it would benefit from it longer. Oats are the perfect solution for those who have low blood sugar.
Green leafy vegetables: Magnesium contained in all leafy greens helps our body to cope with stress, fatigue, irritability and balances blood pressure. It also helps in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. In addition, they contain folic acid, which helps the body to produce dopamine, a chemical that helps us to stay calm. Folic acid can also be found in broccoli and asparagus.
Oranges: Rich in vitamin C, for which we have spoken above, but also an ideal snack for the road. Let’s not forget about grapefruit!
Chamomile: In a cup of boiling water and pour in 3 tablespoons of dried chamomile. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and enjoy its relaxing properties. You can make an ice chamomile tea, too 😉 A study of the University of Pennsylvania showed that chamomile tea (and the supplements of course, but we rather have it in its natural form) helped to significantly reduce stress levels in patients who consumed it for 8 weeks. Studies that have not yet been completed show that beyond calming, chamomile tea is sleep-inducing.
Cashews: Low levels of zinc in our bodies are associated with anxiety and depression, and since zinc is not stored, we should consume daily foods rich in this mineral. One of these foods is cashews. Indeed 28g. cashews contain 11% of the Recommended Daily Allowance. But if you want to lose weight, you should be careful with the amount of nuts you eat. Cashews are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Other foods rich in zinc are oysters, beef, chicken and yogurt.
Avocado: It is rich in glutathione, a substance which blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage. Avocados are, also, rich in lutein and other B vitamins, beta-carotene, and vitamin E which strengthen the immune system. Avocado also contains the greatest amount of folic acid than any other fruit. One serving is a quarter of the fruit.
Pumpkin seeds: Rich in magnesium (like sunflower seeds and flaxseed) which we mentioned earlier. Other foods rich in magnesium are green leafy vegetables, yogurt, nuts and fish. Pumpkin seeds, however, are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid important in the production of serotonin. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for combating depression, is produced in the body using the amino acid tryptophan, which must be supplied through food intake. Tryptophan is also necessary for the production of melatonin, which is vital to sleep. A handful of pumpkin seeds will enhace your mood and clarity.
Bananas: A medium banana fills you up and offers 30% of the RDA in vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce serotonin and thus will experience a tension filled situation much easier. Moreover bananas are high on magnesium and potassium, which helps in the regulation of blood pressure.
Happy Greek Orthodox Easter everyone. I will be back with a delicious recipe a couple of days after Easter.
Περιοδικό ΒΗΜΑgazino, Νο 809/17.04.2016, Δημοσιογραφικός Οργανισμός Λαμπράκη