Combatting Stress with Nutrition

Stress affects every aspect of your body. While it can affect everyone differently, prolonged stress can impact every part of your life, so it is important to do what you can to keep your stress levels in check.

Here is a quick glance at how stress can negatively impact your health:

  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Overproduction of cortisol
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Digestive issues
  • Labored breathing
  • Panic attacks
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system

In today's world, stress is to be expected. At times we experience good stress, for example, when you're planning your daughter's wedding. Other times we suffer from negative stress, such as traffic or work stress.

The truth is, you will never be able to completely escape stress, whether it is physical, mental or emotional. But the good news is that you can control it.

Here are a few ways you can combat stress naturally through nutrition:

  • Amp up your magnesiumStress depletes magnesium, and on the flip side, magnesium helps fight stress. Increase your magnesium levels to 800-1,000 mg daily to help your body remain calm and your muscles relaxed during stressful situations. Additionally, magnesium can help you sleep better, so be sure to take magnesium at bedtime to help you catch a few extra ZZZ's.
  • Eat for stress. Instead of stress eating, eat to control your stress. While it may be tempting to drown your anxiety in a bowl of ice cream or calm your nerves with a box of cookies, stress eating is not only bad for your health, but it can make stressful situations even worse. Grab your fork and dig into the following stress-busting superfoods: spinach, organic turkey, blueberries, seeds and avocado. Each of these foods have stress-relieving properties that will help you burn off a little steam while still keeping a clean diet.
  • Indulge in a little dark chocolate. Yes, consider this permission to eat chocolate! Studies have shown that eating 1.4 ounces of at least 72% dark chocolate every day for two weeks can reduce stress. Go ahead. Indulge a little.
  • Never miss a meal. High-stress situations can cause you to forget or skip a meal. Missing meals can cause you to stress eat later or resort to junk food when you finally sit down to eat. Take some time to enjoy each of your meals, and a couple of snacks, too.
  • Limit your caffeine. Stress and anxiety can cause you to burn the candle at both ends. Too much caffeine not only depletes your magnesium levels, but it also causes a dependency and can cause negative side effects on the brain and nervous system when consumed in large quantities. Instead, opt for water with a squeeze of lemon or even a cup of green tea.

Try this today: Sit down, turn off your smartphone, eat a small piece of dark chocolate and enjoy a cup of warm green tea. You'll be surprised how relieved you feel after just a few minutes.