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Foods to reduce stress

Posted Mar 11 2010 1:58pm


Oh my, the stock markets are acting up again and it’s almost a flashback to October 2008.

There are so many people who are still looking for work and they are trying to juggle a lot of things with limited means. Not having a job, seeing the value of your home decline, becoming a one-salary household and having to watch your retirement fund melt away is quite taxing (pun intended) on the body.

Stress is one sure way to put on weight because food is an emotional outlet for so many people.

That said, if you chose different types of foods (instead of the fatty-greasy foods), you’ll quickly find out that there are actually a handful of foods that can help reduce stress (and help you stay trim, too).

I don’t think that these foods will turn your current financial situation around, but they will help support your health as you are trying to cope with life’s reality.

>>> These 5 foods will tremendously help when it comes to helping your body cope with the negative effects of stress 1. Avocados: When you’re under stress, your body tends to use B vitamins at a faster-than-normal rate. In order to replenish that supply, eat ¼ of an avocado when you’re stressed — on a sandwich, in a salad, or all by itself — to boost B vitamin levels. In addition to B, avocados are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium and a fatty acid known as oleic acid — this fat has been shown to have a mild influence in lowering cholesterol.

2. Tea: Although caffeine has been shown to lead to a more positive mood and improved performance, there’s a fine line between just enough and too much. Too much caffeine can make you dependent and make you nervous, irritable, and hypersensitive or bring on headaches. Because brewed tea is lower in caffeine per cup than coffee, you can drink more tea than coffee before experiencing these effects. Tea also provides a little L-theanine, a calming amino acid.

3. Berries: Under stress we naturally crave sweet things but the problem is that nine out of ten times, the sweets we’re craving are calorie-laden. Berries are naturally sweet and they have vitamin C which tends to be helpful in combating stress. Furthermore, berries have some fibre — which will decrease cravings by building up bulk in your GI track.

4. Dark chocolate (you’ll want to choose at least 70% to enjoy the full benefits of dark chocolate): Chocolate has a lot going for it in addition to its divine taste. It is plump full of flavonoids — a powerful class of antioxidants — which have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Other compounds found in chocolate seem to lower the “bad” component of cholesterol (LDL) while leaving the “good” (HDL) component unchanged. Dark chocolate also contains several psychoactive chemicals that promote alertness and even euphoria. The latest scientific literature even shows it has some blood-pressure lowering properties.

To me, though, that’s not what’s so beautiful about chocolate. What I think is beautiful about chocolate is its ability to enhance sensory recruitment in every way. It’s so inexpensive to have a piece of chocolate and it’s so pleasurable, that if that’s something you like and that’s part of what living well is about, I say: go for it.

Once a day, treat yourself to a guilt-free one-third of a typical dark chocolate bar or 1 ounce of chocolate roughly the size of the palm of a woman’s hand. Doctor’s orders!

5. Magnesium-rich foods: Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition. Magnesium in the body serves several important metabolic functions. It plays a role in the production and transport of energy. It is also important for the contraction and relaxation of muscles and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Green vegetables such as spinach are good sources of magnesium, as are black beans, peas, nuts (peanuts), seeds (pumpkin and squash), tofu, broccoli and whole, unrefined grains.

To reduce stress, and avoid SuperStress, try this today:

Simple as it sounds; focused breathing — during which you think about your breath as you inhale and exhale — is a very effective stress-management technique. A slow, full breath triggers physical and cognitive changes that promote relaxation. Deep breathing helps release tension and anxiety and is a great energizer because the deeper the breath, the more your body is flooded with life-fuelling oxygen. A full breath begins with the diaphragm pushing downward so that the stomach extends out. As your lungs fill with air, your chest expands. When you exhale, the reverse occurs — your chest settles first and then your stomach.

> When anxiety strikes or you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts, immediately exhale through your mouth.

> Now, open your lungs, and breathe in through your nose, drawing in a fresh, cleansing air to the count of four.

> Exhale again slowly to the count of five.

> Repeat four times.

>>> More about Robert Lee


Roberta Lee, M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution , is vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine, director of Continuing Medical Education, and co-director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Lee attended George Washington University Medical School and is one of the four graduates in the first class from the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona conducted by Andrew Weil, M.D.

>>> If you want to find out how you can handle your stress more and not give into your junk food ways, you can click on the link: The SuperStress Solution

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