Stressed out as a result of months staying at home due to the coronavirus crisis? There is no question that being under home quarantine helps reduce the likelihood of getting infected by COVID-19. However, the fears and uncertainty posed by the coronavirus can leave you prone to stress.
While occasional bouts are difficult to avoid, chronic stress can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. This makes you vulnerable to adverse health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and depression, and nearly any sickness can increase your risk of getting the virus.
Interestingly enough, the food you eat can help reduce your stress levels. With that in mind, here are seven of these foods:
A single cup (175 grams) of this leafy green vegetable is loaded with 36 percent of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, an important mineral that plays a role in your body’s stress response.
Low magnesium levels are linked to anxiety, heart attacks and other health conditions. In addition, chronic stress can reduce the magnesium stored in your body, making this mineral important when you are stressed.
Whole, nutrient-rich sources of carbohydrates can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Sweet potatoes, in particular, contain vitamin C and potassium, among other nutrients.
Although cortisol levels are tightly regulated, chronic stress may lead to cortisol dysfunction, potentially causing unwanted effects such as inflammation and pain.
An eight-week study in obese women found that a diet rich in whole, nutrient-rich carb sources (and not refined carbs that are present in the Standard American Diet) results in lower levels of salivary cortisol.
Sardines, salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fats and vitamin D, nutrients that have been shown to help lower stress levels and improve mood.
Omega-3 not only boosts your brain and mood, but also helps your body handle stress. Low intake of this healthy fat is linked to anxiety and depression in Western populations. On the other hand, vitamin D (which is normally gained through healthy sun exposure) is also vital in mental health and stress regulation. Low levels of this vitamin are associated with increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Glutathione is part of your body’s first line of defense against stress, and the high sulfur content in garlic helps increase the levels of this antioxidant. Though more human studies are needed, garlic is found in animal studies to help combat stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli may lower risk of certain cancers, heart disease and mental health disorders such as depression. Cruciferous vegetables are some of the most concentrated food sources of some nutrients that have been proven to combat symptoms of depression. These nutrients include magnesium, vitamin C and folate.
Broccoli, in particular, is also rich in sulforaphane, a brain-protecting sulfur compound, and may offer calming and antidepressant effects.
In addition, a single cup of cooked broccoli packs 20 percent of the daily value of vitamin B6, a higher intake of which lowers risk of anxiety and depression, especially in women.
Packed with stress-fighting vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and manganese, these delicious legumes are rich in L-tryptophan, which is needed by your body to produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Research found that a diet rich in plant-based protein such as chickpeas may help boost brain health and improve mental performance.
A study in over 9,000 people found that those following a Mediterranean diet rich in plant foods like legumes experienced better mood and less stress compared to those following a processed-food-rich Western diet.
High in flavonoid antioxidants, these berries are tied to a number of health benefits, which include improved mood. Flavonoids themselves may help reduce stress-related inflammation while protecting against stress-linked cellular damage.
Furthermore, eating flavonoid-rich foods, including blueberries, has been shown by studies to help safeguard against depression while boosting your mood.