5 Ways Nutrition and Lifestyle Choices Help Deal with Stress(1)

Make your food choices your secret weapon.

We’ve all had those mornings; a restless night’s sleep, your phone buzzing erratically as your work emails pour in and that all important presentation in a few hours. Stress is an inevitable part of our lives. If left unchecked over a period of time, high stress levels can set off a host of physical and emotional health problems and be critical to your overall wellbeing.(1)

Given that a recent survey found that 50% of corporate India suffers from chronic stress, it’s important to focus on what we can do to relax and lower our stress levels. It’s important to recognize the signs of stress and address them through sleep, exercise and even quality nutrition before they become chronic.(1,2)

Most people don’t realize it, but good nutrition can do just as much as — if not more than — relaxing with a cup of chai, to combat the negative effects of stress. In fact, senior Abbott research scientists state that compounds found in certain foods work wonders to combat the side effects that stress induces on our bodies. Anti-oxidants in Dark leafy vegetables and omega 3, such as fish, can build a solid foundation for your body and can also reduce inflammation and oxidation built up by stress.(1,3)

With today’s fast-paced lifestyles, it’s becoming increasingly important to make time to take care of ourselves. So, if you’re feeling stressed, take note of the five tips below; these small changes can put you on track to reducing your stress:(1,3)

five-ways-nutrition

Eat foods that are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds such as unsaturated fatty acids (like rawas and tuna), antioxidants, polyphenols and carotenoids (like dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, bright-coloured peppers and even wine). These foods have anti-oxidants whichare great for reducing inflammation.(1)

foods-you-eat

Eating at home generally increases the likelihood that you will have a healthy diet because you have control over the ingredients in your meals. One way to make it easier to eat a healthy diet is to keep fresh nutritious foods on hand. You can also eat frozen or dried fruits such as nuts along with cereals to add fibre in to your diet.(1,4)

eat-at-home

While stress can sometimes make it harder for us to be active, it is more important than ever to exercise when feeling stressed. Physical activity releases endorphins, reduces adrenaline and cortisol levels, helping to decrease mental stress. Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that give runners their “runner’s high” and allow your body to relax.(1,5)

exercise

A recent study showed that inadequate sleep alters the secretion of hunger-promoting hormones, causing you to feel hungrier and therefore, overeat. This is one reason we may overeat when stressed and sleep deprived. Aim for seven to eight hours each night(1,6).

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Ever get the jitters from too much caffeine? Research shows caffeine can actually worsen your stress response so while a little coffee may be help you stay awake on those drowsy work-day mornings; your body will thank you for choosing your water bottle over your coffee cup in the afternoon.(1)

It’s important to remember not to be discouraged though. Maintaining a healthy diet and breaking bad habits will take its due time. What’s important is that we stay on track and don’t lose focus(1).

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