The 4 Best Foods to Support Occasional Stress
By Brandi Black, RHN
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Updated April 2, 2020
Feeling stressed out and anxious isn’t foreign to the average American. In fact, many adults in the United States have experienced anxiety at one point in their lives. And based on the nature of our modern, chaotic lifestyles, stress is something many of us may occasionally experience.
To avoid the negative effects of stress on your body, it’s important to manage your stress on an emotional, physical and nutritional level. Many foods found in nature contain nutrients that may boost your mood and energy levels. At times, vitamin and mineral deficiencies may contribute to stress, which is why proper nutrition is a must for your health and wellness— especially during times of difficult emotions.
Feeling stressed or overwhelmed affects everyone’s appetite differently, which is why some of us may skip meals when we’re feeling low or gravitate towards sweets and processed “comfort” foods. Understandably, taking control of your appetite during these stressful times can be difficult—- however, increasing nutrients in your diet may make all the difference in how you cope with and respond to stress.
Here are the 4 best foods and supplements to manage feelings of occasional stress.
It’s more than a hot dog condiment— it’s a mood superfood.
As a fermented food, sauerkraut contains strains of beneficial bacteria (or probiotics), which are important for keeping your digestive system healthy. Studies have found links between gut health and your mood, which suggests probiotics may also be helpful for your emotional well-being.
Much of your body’s serotonin (the neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm, happy, confident, and relaxed) is produced in your gut— so keeping your gut healthy can help keep your serotonin levels in check.
Regularly eating probiotic foods may help improve your balance of healthy gut bacteria, and therefore your mood. I recommend eating ¼ cup of sauerkraut each day and getting probiotics from other fermented foods such as apple cider vinegar, kimchi, beet kvass, coconut milk kefir, and kombucha. You can also take probiotic nutritional supplements, which can be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store.
Eleuthero belongs to a class of herbs called adaptogens, which help your body cope with and adapt to changes in your environment—including occasional stress.
Eleuthero is considered one of the most powerful adaptogens for supporting occasional stress naturally. Eleuthero could benefit your mental focus and energy without jitters.
You can take eleuthero daily as a nutritional supplement with Organic Sun Eleuthero tablets, or sip on eleuthero tea, such as Infuse Your Mood Herbal Tea. You can also add Sun Eleuthero extract to your snack and dessert recipes—one of our favorite snacks are these Organic Sun Eleuthero Energy Bars. Adding eleuthero into your daily nutrition regimen brings lots of added benefits and health effects to your body.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are high in the mineral, zinc.
Certain minerals work together in the body to perform specific functions, and zinc works with copper to maintain a balanced mood. An imbalanced zinc and copper ratio has been linked to mood imbalances.
Snacking on pumpkin seeds each day will help boost your zinc levels. You can also get zinc from flaxseed as well.
4. Dark Chocolate
If you crave chocolate when you’re stressed out, there may be some science behind that. Studies suggest cocoa powder has beneficial “actions” on the brain and positive effects on mood because it contains both serotonin and tyrosine (which is a precursor to dopamine— our reward and pleasure center neurotransmitter).
Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, which is often referred to as a “natural chill pill” because it has a calming effect on the nervous system.
When it comes to eating dark chocolate for its mood-enhancing benefits, always be sure to choose a variety that’s 70% dark chocolate or higher, with no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners added. If you find the taste bitter, I recommend pairing it with a tablespoon of organic almond butter for a yummy snack.
Offering your body stress support through nutrition is simple—especially when it involves eating chocolate. Taking supplements such as probiotics, chlorella, and adaptogenic herbs like eleuthero will also ensure your mind and body get the support to handle occasional stress, so you can experience the most joy and pleasure life has to offer each day. If you’re interested in other ways to reduce stress and get the most out of your life, try yoga and other relaxing activities.
It’s always important to check in with a licensed healthcare practitioner before adding a nutritional supplement to your diet.
Author: Brandi Black, RHN