• Aging Well Denver

Can Your Diet Add To Your Stress?

When you think about the things in your life that contribute to your stress you probably think of the big things - work, kids, schedules, finances etc. Those are all considered "macro stressors", and while they certainly impact your stress levels and mental health they aren't the only culprits. Life's "micro stressors," like running late, forgetting your lunch, or ruining your shoes in a puddle, really add up over time.

Even though we don't have the same stressors that our ancestors did, our bodies handle it the same way that they would if you were hunting your own food or protecting yourself from predators. When you are faced with stressful situations your heart rate goes up, you breath more heavily and your body releases hormones like epinephrine and cortisol. Over time these things can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, anxiety and more.

Poor eating habits can just exacerbate these symptoms and contribute to feelings of sluggishness and irritability. Substituting these simple "super foods" into your diet can combat stress by releasing certain chemicals into your brain, providing you with "happiness inducing" vitamins and more!

Dark, leafy greens. Spinach, kale and other dark greens have high levels of folate and magnesium. Both contain chemicals that reduce fatigue and release dopamine, a pleasure inducing hormone that can help you stay calm.

Omega 3 Fats - This seems like a buzz word that you find on every super food list, but its for a good reason! These healthy fats have anti- inflammatory properties that may help to counter act the negative effects of stress hormones. You can find these in salmon, walnuts and even flaxseed.

Antioxidants - Now you have a reason to snack on some dark chocolate or berries! Antioxidants have been shown to relax the walls of your blood vessels, therefor lowering your blood pressure. Many whole foods have antioxidants but chocolate is the most fun!

Probiotics - If you've ever experienced stomach issues as a result of stress it's because your brain signals to your gut, but it works both ways. Keep your gut healthy by eating yogurt, kefir or fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut.

h2o - Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Being dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels so aim to keep a bottle with you all day and keep refilling! Staying hydrated can also reduce fatigue and help with digestion, your skin and so much more.

What do you do to relieve stress? Are you a yoga person? Meditation? Have you changed your diet to reduce stress? We'd love to hear from you! Share with a friend and compare notes!