Are you feeling anxious or stressed? Everybody does at some point – in fact, a study carried out in 2017 suggested that eight in every ten Americans suffers from stress at some point. That is a huge 80 percent of the nation’s population.
If you are one of those 80 percent, then you might be wondering just what you can do to try and relieve that stress and relax in everyday life. You’d probably be surprised to know that simply biting into a mango or sipping on the right cup of tea can help the human body de-stress.
That’s right; it really can be that simple. Here are 10 foods and drinks to put into your body to help reduce stress.
Green isn’t really a colour that we associate with relaxation – how could it be when every time Doctor Bruce Banner gets stressed, he turns into The Incredible Hulk whose skin is a bright shade of green?
Rather than turning green, what Doctor Banner should do is drink green. A cup of herbal green tea contains L-Theanine which helps to promote relaxation and facilitates sleep by helping the brain to regulate our moods while reducing the number of chemicals responsible for stress reactions that are being released.
So, next time you feel yourself turning into The Incredible Hulk, boil some water, brew up a green tea and get sipping.
Make the most of this one as it’s not very often you can justify eating chocolate for medical reasons. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give your carte blanche to go and munch on as many of America’s 10 favourites chocolate as you like, but one small square of chocolate a day – around 1.4 ounces – can help calm nerves.
Dark chocolate is particularly effective because of the way that it regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the fact it stabilizes metabolism. So, there you have it – finally some proof that chocolate is good for us.
Minty chewing gum or fruit bubble gum, it doesn’t matter what you chew on – just make sure it is something.
A stick of gum is the cheapest and easiest way to beat stress. Chewing can reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels, which might explain why you can’t be a professional baseball player without having a serious chewing action.
Celery, carrot or another crunchy snack
If you don’t fancy chewing gum, then you should consider chewing on something that you can eat at the same time.
We’ve already covered the health benefits of chewing and studies have shown that stressed adults crave crunchy and salty snacks more than normal during times of stress. Rather than reaching for a bag of chips, go for something healthy instead. Sticks of celery of carrots will give you the effect of chewing with all the benefits of one of your five a day.
Aside from tasting glorious, honey has many different health benefits. It is a natural skin moisturiser and an antibiotic which means that it can keep us glowing and help in the fight against allergies.
When it comes to stress, honey contains compounds that can help to reduce inflammation of the brain, aiding the fight against depression and anxiety. If we are less depressed and anxious, chances are we’ll be less stressed. As a result, so get sipping on that sweet, sweet honey.
Mango contains a compound called linalool which is proven to help lower stress levels. Just biting into one slice of the juicy fruit can have you feeling relaxed, so be sure to introduce it to your diet either as a snack or a healthy lunch.
Aside from the science behind the benefits of mango, the taste of it can also transport you to a tropical beach and the thought of glorious cocktails. Just the thought of relaxation in the Caribbean can be enough to help calm you.
Herbs and supplements
Away from food and drink, there are various herbs and supplements that you can introduce to your body to help relieve stress, although you should of course always consult a doctor before adding them to your diet.
Ashwagandha has been used for years to help calm people, Rhodiola has a medicinal history stretching back to 77 C.E, valerian root has been used to deal with nervousness and anxiety since the second century A.D. and newer products such as medical and recreational marijuana which you can discover more about.
Some studies have suggested anxiety can be linked to a lack of Vitamin B. Vitamin B is essential for healthy nerves and brain cells which can all play a role in how stressed we are.
Eating avocado ensures that you are not only consuming a rich source of vitamin B, but you are also getting a good level of monosaturated fats, one of the “good” fats that the body needs to remain healthy.
Spinach has a two-fold effect when it comes to helping reduce stress levels. Firstly, it is rich in magnesium which can help regulate cortisol levels. As we’ve already discussed, that is hugely important when it comes to stress.
Secondly, spinach is an excellent source of fibre and fibrous foods are known to minimize hunger. Overeating and thus gaining weight can be a significant contributor to stress as we worry about our size and health, so a hearty dose of spinach is good not only for reducing stress, but preventing a potential cause of it as well.
If you aren’t into vegetarianism, you were probably concerned by the lack of meats on the list. Don’t worry – there are plenty of meats that can help in the battle against stress, but chicken is probably the best.
Chicken is rich in an amino acid called tryptophan which produces serotonin. Serotonin is known as a happy hormone because of the effect it has on depression, with studies suggesting that those with low levels of it are much more likely to suffer from the problem. It’s official – eating chicken can make you happy.