Stress and anxiety can be a friend to us in small doses, or they can be our worst enemy.These really are different times from our grandparents and great grandparents. These days, it seems that there is a lot more to be stressed and anxious about. We seem to want it all, a successful career, happy loving family, and adventurous social life, and still have time left for sex and intimacy.We are under a lot more pressure to achieve and do more. Demands and pressures at work and at home can take a toll on us physically and mentally, and can deplete our brains and bodies of key nutrients.
There is a strong connection between what we eat and our ability to handle stress, keep our moods balanced, and bounce back from traumas.Being low on key nutrients can alter our brain’s biochemistry and neurotransmitter health and function. Proper nutrition can also help enhance any techniques or therapies an individual may be going through on their path to healing stress, anxiety and mood, and help to speed up results. It is an often missed piece of the mental health puzzle.
Some foods and nutrients that are important to your emotional health and stress management include:
Our brains are mostly made up of fat. Omega 3 is key for positive mood, anxiety reduction, cognition and memory. It is also as an important factor in immune health and fresh glowing skin. Good sources of this life enhancing fat include, salmon, tuna, herring, walnuts, chia ,flax and hemp seeds.
Good Quality Protein:
Protein is broken down into amino acids in the body, which are important for our neurotransmitter function and our mood. Certain amino acids are responsible for certain moods and brain functions, and amino acid therapy is often used to help heal sadness, anxiety and to manage stress. The key is quality of protein. Sources include:
Consume leaner meats like chicken, turkey or ostrich. Fish is good too. Go for free range organic meat that has been grass fed and not given any unnecessary antibiotics.
Quinoa, nutritional yeast, beans, nuts, seeds, and algae are great sources. Try combining a grain with nuts, seeds or beans to get all essential amino acids. For example, try toast and almond butter, or brown rice with beans and salsa.
Green leafy vegetables
Try chard, kale, or spinach topped with strawberries and feta cheese.
Foods high in Zinc
Zinc is mandatory for so many functions in the body including mood, immune health, and optimal heart and nervous system function. Oysters, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, cashews, cocoa, chicken, beans and mushrooms make great sources.
Other key foods and nutrients:
- Foods High in Vitamin C such as Bell Peppers, guavas, red and green hot chili peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, papaya, oranges and strawberries
- B vitamins – Nutritional yeast is a good source of B-complex vitamins, and well as lean meat.
- Vitamin D – found in cod liver oil, oysters, fish, eggs, or mushrooms.
- Cocoa powder (raw) / dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Whole Grains