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Stress is a problem that we have all experienced. We can experience acute stress (ex: being stuck in traffic, arguing with our partner, etc.), acute episodic (frequent stressful events like school deadlines), and chronic stress (abuse, financial hardship, etc.). Our bodies respond to all types of stress in the same way, even if it is arising from a real or perceived event. Stressors trigger the “fight or flight” response in our bodies. When this stress response is triggered long-term, it can have negative effects on our bodies.
Adrenaline a.ka. epinephrine causes our heart rates to accelerate and increases blood pressure. If our stress is prolonged, our adrenal glands begin to release a hormone called cortisol, which triggers the release of glucose in our bodies. This release of glucose can cause other functions in our bodies to shut down (i.e. digestion and reproduction) so that our bodies focus on stress in order to protect us. Our hormones do not return to normal until the threat that stress is responding to disappears. If stress remains long-term, this can lead to damaged cells in our bodies and inflammation.
Long-term stress can cause issues in our bodies such as:
heart disease & chest pains
anxiety & depression
There are many ways to cope with stress, and research has been illustrating that a balanced diet can play a crucial role in managing it. Here are foods that can help manage stress:
omega-3 fats (salmon, avocado, chia seeds, etc.)
foods high in vitamin B (chicken, beef, eggs, nutritional yeast, etc.)
magnesium rich foods (bananas, avocado, broccoli, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds)
protein (chicken breast, lean beef, peanuts, quinoa, etc.)
gut healthy foods (Greek yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, etc.)
Foods to avoid when stressed:
simple carbs (pastries, cake, etc.)
sugary foods & drinks
In closing, stress is an inevitable part of life. But despite this, we can always make adjustments in order to manage it. Diet can play such an instrumental role in our mental health. Always, consult your physician or a registered dietician before making any changes to your diet.