Sunday, March 24, 2013
EIGHT stress-busting foods (alternatives to alcohol, cigarettes, and ice cream)
With all the pressures and demands placed on us by work, family, and our many other relationships, life can certainly get downright stressful at times.
If you have a job, have a family, or interact with other human beings daily, then you know what I'm talking about.
Unfortunately, most people reach for all the WRONG foods when they're stressed, and even worse, many others turn to unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes (yikes!) to cope with life's challenges...all disastrous choices for your health, hormones, and waistline alike.
But what if you could EAT your way to a more relaxed, calmer state, without packing on the pounds? Or even better, what if you could do it while DROPPING some of those pesky pound-a-roos as you do?
Well, good news.... you CAN, when you know exactly which belly-slimming foods to reach for when things just so happen to get a little crazy. Here are 8 of my favorites:
1. Oatmeal - Carbs prompt your brain to make more serotonin - your body's "feel good" chemical. Choosing a low GI carb source that yields a steady blood sugar response, like old fashioned oatmeal, is a healthy choice for your waistline while also yielding a steady, sustained supply of serotonin for a calming, soothing effect.
2. Oranges - In one study, German researchers found that consuming Vitamin C helped test subjects experience reduced elevations in cortisol (your body's #1 stress hormone) and blood pressure when subjected to a specific stressful environment -- public speaking and math problems! Poor research subjects! Other foods high in Vitamin C include peppers, cantaloupe, and tomatoes, just to name a few.
3. Turkey - Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan, which also triggers serotonin release and a relaxed state. Gobble gobble...time for a nap!
4. Salmon - Salmon and other fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a positive effect on stress levels. For instance, a study published in Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking, while another study conducted at Ohio State University showed omega-3 fatty acids to decrease anxiety by 20%!
5. Avocados - Due to their high potassium content, avocados have been shown to help reduce stress-related high blood pressure. Believe it or not, avocados actually contain more potassium than bananas! Guacamole anyone?
6. Broccoli - Broccoli contains folic acid, a vitamin which has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, panic, and depression. Just another reason to chow down on this super food regularly.
7. Almonds - Crunch crunch, yum yum...stress relief at it's best! These little guys are packed with B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc, all of which are involved in the production of serotonin. The zinc and magnesium combination in particular has been shown to improve sleep from a variety of angles. For example, one Italian study showed zinc and magnesium to shorten the time it took subjects to fall asleep while improving quality of sleep and altertness the morning after.
8. Blueberries - Packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress within the body, blueberries are also rich in Vitamin C whose benefits we went over earlier. As an added benefit, they're also extremely low glycemic so they're a great choice practically any time of day.