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Naturally calm stress with these 4 food tips

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Try these 4 food tips to naturally quell anxiety and lower your health risks.

Some foods have the ability to help calm stress. We all know the phrase "comfort foods", but contrary to what you might think, eating fattening, fried and greasy foods can make us feel worse. Multiple studies show the importance of controlling stress hormones in the body that, left unchecked, can lead to chronic debilitating diseases.

Yogurt and stress

Eating yogurt was shown in a Toronto University based study to help calm the nerves. Lactobacillus, found in some yogurt products and sold as a dietary supplement, boosted mood in 39 patients studied who suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome after 2-months of regular consumption.

Researchers for the study say the calming effect of eating yogurt might come from a chemical reaction that occurs between the nervous system and the gut.

Incorporate more Mediterranean foods into your diet

Eating a Mediterranean diet can boost your mood and keep anxiety at bay, shown in a small study from researchers as Swinburne University in 2011. After 10-days of consuming beans, nuts and other legumes, fresh fruits, less red meat and olive oil, study participants reported feeling more content in addition to experiencing a boost in mental clarity.

Dark chocolate eases stress: Here's how

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Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released when we become emotionally upset. Eating dark chocolate quells anxiety because it lowers levels of the stress hormone that can, over time, lead to disease when too much remains in our bloodstream.

The study, conducted by the chocolate make Nestle in 2009, tested the effect of dark chocolate for calming the nerves by measuring cortisol levels in the participants for the investigation.

It's important not to overindulge in dark chocolate and make sure you consume pure cocoa that is even safe in small amount for people with diabetes.

Eat fish

Not everyone eats fish, but if you do, make sure you get at least 3-servings a week. For vegans, omega-3 fatty acids that calm stress in the body can also be found by eating nuts and other components of the Mediterranean diet.

Researchers discovered in 2011 that omega-3 fatty acids that are abundant in fish had a calming effect on over-worked; highly stressed medical students.

There was a 20 percent reduction in reported stress levels that was compared to a group of medical students given placebo. The study that was conducted by Ohio State University researchers, showed the fish oil lowered levels of inflammatory cytokines in the body.

Recent findings that stress is a top killer makes it important to find lifestyle interventions to mitigate the harmful effects of overtaxing the sympathetic nervous system. Chronic stress and anxiety is linked to higher risk of type-2 diabetes, especially for men, heart attack, obesity and more.

We now have clues based on studies that show food can play an important role in naturally calming stress. A simple change of diet can make us feel better by boosting mood, making us feel less anxious and lowering biomarkers of stress at a cellular level. The next time you reach for 'comfort food', make it a square of dark chocolate, a handful of nuts or a cup of your favorite yogurt. You may even find yourself taking more time to 'smell the roses'.