healthy diet for stress free life
Healthy diet is the new mantra for stress free life. Stress is a world phenomenon impacting both men, women and children alike.
Stress leads to a plethora of health issues, resulting in decreased productivity at work and soured relationship on the personal front.
Our metabolism is designed to experience stress if our body is not supplemented by proper diet and nutrition, coupled with physical activity.
Stress releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in the body which leads to health issues like headache, insomnia, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
When there is excess release of these hormones the body secretes amino acids, potassium and phosphorous which adversely affects our immune system.
Let us analyze how food affects stress level.
There are some food which people frequently resort to combat stress but they actually trigger and aggravate stress. Like
- Processed Food
- Soft drinks/Soda/Energy Drinks
- Junk Food
Junk foods gives temporary reprieve. Initially it might be refreshing but soon one will be battling mood swings, irritability and increased stress because of the rich sugar content, trans fat and monosodium glutamate ( MSG) present in the junk food. They contain neuro-stimulators which are proven to heighten stress and anxiety and may cause insomnia.
Junk food appeal to the taste buds and are convenient but are a far cry from balanced and healthy nutrition. They contain high level of fats. Beverages and energy drinks are loaded with calories sans vitamins and minerals. A high level of carbon dioxide and sugar content in soft drinks aggravates stress which leads to increased sugar level in the blood. Junk food spikes your energy level quickly and dips suddenly, leading to fall in energy level.
There is no substitute to a healthy, nutritious and balanced meal combined with yoga and pranayam. Food high in vitamin and minerals actively reduce stress.
Stress busting foods
There are some foods which help stabilize blood sugar and equalize the emotional response.
Whole grain: Stay away from junk and switch over to whole grains, cereals like ragi, oats, whole wheat, pulses and quinoa in daily meal to maintain a steady supply of energy. These cereals are rich in vitamin B carbohydrate, proteins and fats.
Green Leafy Vegetables: Asparagus and Spinach are very high in folic acid and vitamin B and helps the body produce mood regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which lowers the risk of depression. Fruits and vegetables of any sort help keep the nerves calm. People consuming food rich in foliate are more stress free.
Cottage cheese: Food rich in protein contain large amount of amino acid called tryptophan that converts to serotonin. Cottage cheese is a rich source of protein for vegetarians.
Nuts: Almonds and walnuts are high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also rich source of vitamin B2, vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. Nuts are a treasure trove of nutrition.
Vitamin C: Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C which reduces the production of stress hormones and strengthen the immune system. They are very fibrous and low in calorie.
Omega 3 fats: Food rich in omega-3 are very useful in fighting any inflammation and pain like headache.
Avocados: A rich source of potassium and monounsaturated fat helps in releasing serotonin. Though one must be aware of portion size as it is high in calories.
Milk: Milk have long been a good source of lactose and calcium along with a high content of protein and vitamin B2 and B12. It helps in preserving the tryptophan and releases serotonin.
Fermented Food: The key to good health is healthy gut, an unhealthy gut can be detrimental to mental health too, leading to anxiety and depression. Fermented food contain lactobacillus rhamnosus, healthy bacteria which sends behavior regulating signals to brain and lowers the stress induced hormones.
Go for home made curd and other fermented food, commercial yogurt is loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavour, sugar and have clinically less amount of healthy bacteria.
Apart from food, sleep and exercise are equally important to combat stress.
Adequate Sleep: Quality sleep is more important than long hours of sleep, as it helps the mind and body relax. Serotonin, a hormone present in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and the nervous system facilitates quality sleep.
Yoga and meditation: Exercise releases endorphins, a feel good chemicals in the body and plays an important role in releasing serotonin. Yoga, pranayam and meditation calms the nerves, mind and body and enhance the production levels of serotonin in your body which leads to increased productivity at work and create a balanced life:
Get smart with your lifestyle and eating habits and remain upbeat. Share your healthy meal recipe for variety and health.
Contact Jagadguru Kripalu Yoga & Naturopathy Hospital for lifestyle consultation.
by Pragya Sinha