Stress can be a major contributor to weight gain and can cause all kinds of health issues when it is not addressed. Chronic stress can lead to bad eating habits like reliance on carbohydrate rich foods. Stress causes a hormone called cortisol to rise and leads to cravings for sweet foods. But the problem is that even the act of eating carbohydrate rich foods doesn't really solve the problem and can lead to an energy crash that makes you feel even worse than before. The chronic high levels of stress have a double effect on weight gain because the high levels of cortisol trigger the body to store more fat than it normally would, which makes it easier to gain weight and more difficult to lose weight.
These 7 foods can help you relax and control stress and lower inflammation levels without making you gain weight, and it's important to do everything that you can to fight stress.
Food #1 - Turkey breast
Turkey in general is one of the healthiest foods that you can eat, and there is an amino acid in turkey called tryptophan that can actually help you relax and lower your stress levels. Tryptophan helps the brain produce serotonin which helps to regulate hunger and contributes to feelings of well being and happiness. Tryptophan may also have a calming effect by itself, which is one reason why many people fall into a "food coma" after Thanksgiving. Other studies have found that people who consume tryptophan rich foods often have a more relaxed personality.
Food #2 - Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is well known as a stress fighter, and it does so by lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Dark chocolate is a good alternative to other unhealthy desserts like milk chocolate or ice cream, and a study even found that people who ate one dark chocolate candy bar each day for two weeks had lower levels of cortisol, and the fight or flight hormones called catecholamines which are found in people who are highly stressed. There are many other benefits of eating dark chocolate including an improved insulin sensitivity and a more stabilized blood pressure, a more relaxed mood and a high antioxidant content which may fight some cancers and lower your risk of heart disease.
Food #3 - Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is one of the best drinks for stress control and it has one of the most potent relaxing effects out of any food or drink. Chamomile tea has many different flavonoids with beneficial effects, and one called apigenin works as a natural stress reliever and sedative. Chamomile tea is the perfect drink prior to bedtime as it can help you get relaxed and lower your stress and anxiety levels, or any time that you are feeling stressed during the day as well. Some researchers believe that chamomile is just as potent as some of the anti-anxiety drugs that currently exist, but the difference is that it doesn't have any of the dangerous side effects that these drugs do, so it's definitely worth using as a stress reliever.
Food #4 - Kale
Leafy green vegetables and kale in particular are excellent stress fighters. You probably already know how nutrient rich that dark leafy green vegetables are, but they also have an important compound that is beneficial for its calming effect: magnesium. The magnesium in dark leafy greens and kale helps to relax the nervous system and the muscles, and it can lower cortisol levels. Magnesium is often used to treat anxiety, cramps, and other stress related health problems like high blood pressure. It's one of the most beneficial nutrients for people who have suffered health problems from chronic stress and it can even help with other ailments like sleep disturbances. If you think you might be suffering from low magnesium levels or if you are dealing with stress be sure to add more green leafy vegetables to your diet, and you'll likely notice a difference in your stress levels.
Food #5 - Avocado
Avocados are one of the must nutrient rich foods and have several nutrients that can lower your chronic stress levels. Some of the vitamins including B vitamins, vitamin E, and potassium. Avocado mainly fights stress by helping to regulate your blood sugar levels, which can help to reduce your cravings for carbohydrate rich foods when you're feeling the urge to eat. The B vitamins also provide you with an extra source of energy and help your body cope with the effects of stress, and the potassium and monounsaturated fats help to lower your blood pressure and regulate your cardiovascular system and any negative cardiovascular effects that your body has had as a result of stress.
Food #6 - Blueberries
Blueberries are well known as one of the best superfoods that you can eat, and there are several nutrients in blueberries that can help reduce the impact of stress on your body. Blueberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants which are powerful stress fighters, and they can help your cells repair the damage related to oxidative stress. The antioxidants in blueberries also help your brain produce more dopamine which is crucial for the functioning of your memory, your mood and for regulating stress levels. Research has also found that blueberries can increase of particular white blood cells which can improve immunity.
Food #7 - Salmon and other fish
Fish are one of the healthiest protein sources and wild caught salmon and other fatty fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for a healthy and functional nervous and cardiovascular system. Several studies have linked omega-3 fatty acid consumption with a lower level of depression and stress. Getting more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is absolutely essential if you have been dealing with stress, and they can greatly improve the ability for both your body and your brain to fight it. You can get more omega-3s by taking a supplement as well, but it's ideal to get as many as you can from natural sources that you will absorb better like fish, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, and others.
It's also essential that you get plenty of sunlight or take a vitamin D supplement, as vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for stress relief and control.