In spite of vacations, anti-anxiety meds, yoga, Jacuzzis, and exercise, New York City is still ranked as one of the most stressful in the United States. A 2000 study conducted in London sought to determine whether stress affects food choices. Results, gleaned by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Health Behaviour Unit in London, found that stressed, emotional people seek out sweeter foods with higher fat contents. The study therefore concluded that stress may compromise a person’s health by steering him or her toward less healthy food choices.
As nature would have it, just as there are foods that can wreak havoc with our attempts at tranquility, so too are there meal choices we can make that will bring a sense of calm to our lives.
Research has shown vitamins B complex, C, and E; and minerals such as manganese, selenium, and zinc all help to lower stress. Potassium will reduce blood pressure, while unrefined carbohydrates will provide you with an energy boost that won’t weight you down. Iron, which helps to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream, enhances brain power and combats stress levels. Foods high in fiber will regulate blood sugar levels in the body (fluctuating blood sugar levels are a major stress contributor); and keeping your body systems “regular” will combat irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, two long-term effects of stress on the body.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet of foods to reach for next time you are feeling stressed:
* Dark, leafy green vegetables, especially kale, spinach, and broccoli * Fresh fruits, in particular blueberries, oranges, bananas, avocadoes, and dried apricots * Soy products high in B vitamins, protein, calcium, and magnesium (think tofu, tempeh, and soy milk) * Whole wheat flour and yeast * Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole grain cereal, or oats * Sweet potatoes (they’re loaded with beta carotene and other vitamins—and they’ll satisfy your urge for sweet carbs)
For some amazing recipes that use these healthy foods, check out www.TofuRobotics.blogspot.com, which is written by our very own Massage Therapist, Laurel!