10 Healthy Foods that Calm & De-Stress
Stress is something that we all deal with in this busy go-go-go world we currently live in. The key to managing stress properly is recognizing it and finding ways to combat it that work for each individual. One easy way, that doesn't require extra effort is through food. Since we all have to eat to fuel our bodies, why not get the maximum benefit out of our food and choose foods that not only fuel our busy lifestyles, but also heal and calm us!
Here are 10 Healthy Foods that Calm & De-Stress the Body:
By far my personal favorite, chocolate is the quintessential go-to de-stressor. Chocolate contains polyphenols and magnesium which have been clinically shown to reduce the effects of stress and induce a state of calm. It also contains flavonols, making it a heart healthy super food! Be sure to opt for organic, sustainably and responsibly sourced dark chocolate - the darker the better - for max benefits.
A great snack food, nuts and seeds are high in good fats - brain food, and other nutrients that have a calming effect on the body. They create a feeling of fullness, satisfaction, and boost in mood that help combat stress. Opt for dry roasted and organic if you can get a hold of them, or soak and dry raw nuts and seeds yourself to further reduce the mineral blocking anti-nutrients in some of them. And remember, a little goes a long way!
The gut-brain connection has been gaining momentum in research over the last few years and the findings are truly remarkable. Our gut plays such a huge role in our mental health, among other areas of our bodies, that I strongly recommend everyone be on a multi-strain probiotic supplement. In addition to that, fermented foods are a great way to create a healthy gut and combat the effects of stress. Healthy gut bacteria create an adaptogenic ability to handle our toxic environment both physically and mentally. Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sourkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables are fairly easy to make yourself or purchase commercially. Be sure to choose organic products with low sugar, and minimal additives and processing.
Besides the boost in energy and positive mood hormones that fruits and berries stimulate, they also contain a load of anti-oxidants and other health boosting chemicals that are great for keeping a body healthy, calm, and relaxed. Work from the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen list when choosing organic vs. conventionally grown produce, and eat them in abundance!
B Vitamins are necessary for so many functions in the body, one of which is mood stabilization. Foods high in B vitamins can increase one's sense of well being and adaptability, while protecting the body from the harmful effects of stress. Eggs are a great source of B vitamins. Always choose the best quality eggs - organically grown and pasture raised are a must. Farmer's markets are a great resource for local eggs like this at a fraction of the grocery store cost.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
Eat your veggies! Isn't that what we've heard our whole lives? It's true! Veggies pack such a powerful punch when trying to combat stress and bring a sense of calm to our minds. Dark greens like kale, spinach, collard and mustard greens, swiss chard, and bok choy contain a high about of brain calming vitamins and minerals like folate and magnesium. Be sure to cook them to reduce oxalate content which some people are sensitive to.
Another great food for combating stress and aiding in calm is avocado. Avocados contain key B vitamins as well as healthy fats, both necessary nutrients to a healthy brain and body. They also provide a feeling of fullness and satisfaction that help to keep us from reaching for the quick junky comfort foods. The good news is that avocados are on the Clean 15 list, so you can be comfortable saving a little money buy buying conventionally grown avocados.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a great comfort food substitute for calming the body and de-stressing. They come in many forms, beyond what we typically are familiar with like wheat, oats, corn, and rice. Quinoa, barley, rye, and buckwheat have also been increasing in popularity in the recent years. Ancient grains like einkorn, emmer/farro, kamut, and spelt (all types of wheat), as well as sorghum, teﬀ, millet, and amaranth are wonderful choices and widely available. Choose organic, non-GMO grains, and soak them overnight before cooking or sprouting for maximum nutritional bioavailability.
Beef and dairy are another good source of B vitamins and other nutrients that aid in calming and de-stressing the body. Always choose the best quality animal products - organically and pasture raised, and grass fed are a must. If you can get your hands on raw dairy products from A2 cows as well, even better! Farmer's markets are a great resource for foods like this at a fraction of the grocery store cost. Get to know your farmers!
10. Chamomile Tea
While I would technically classify Chamomile tea as an herbal supplement rather than a food, it is still one of the best de-stressing drinks to calm the body. Chamomile contains many beneficial flavonoids that relax the body and mind. One cup in the evening or before bed can really make a difference in battling stress.