It’s been a lousy day. You spilled coffee on yourself before you left the house. Got held up in traffic. And now you’re running 10 minutes late to an important meeting.
Your stress levels are off the chart and when you finally stop for lunch you order up some of your favorite comfort foods… a steaming pile of fries with ketchup and pizza with double cheese and pepperoni.
We’ve all done it. But the truth is, while those “tried-and-true” comfort foods might make you feel better in the moment they’ll send your blood sugar soaring and having you crashing hard and feeling worse than ever within the hour.
But while comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, ice-cream and potato chips will cause you MORE stress in the long run, you can still eat your way to a stress-free day. You simply have to rethink your comfort food choices.
3 NEW comfort foods to slash your stress
Next time you feel your stress levels rising reach for one of these NEW comfort foods instead. They’ll help lower your stress levels all day long.
Lentils are packed with natural folate or vitamin B9. Folate is a must have for keeping your cool throughout the day. When your folate levels are low your homocysteine levels start to climb. Too much homocysteine can block the release of your stress-fighting hormones, increasing your risk for anxiety and depression.1,2,3.4,5
Other folate rich foods you can try include asparagus, garbanzo beans, navy beans, black eyed peas, black beans and spinach
There are lots of health benefits to eating avocados, but one that’s often overlooked is their glutathione content. Glutathione—often called the master or mother antioxidant—is present in every single cell of your body.
The antioxidant naturally protects your cells from many forms of oxidative stress. Experts say when we’re stressed our bodies try to produce more glutathione, but our levels of this protective compound start to drop as we age.6
When there’s not enough glutathione to fight oxidative stress the imbalance may trigger anxiety. In fact, there’s growing evidence that raising your levels of this important antioxidant could help squash anxiety.7
In an animal study researchers found that glutathione acts on the same genes that regulate anxiety.8 And in another study, published in the journal Neuroscience Letters, glutathione was able to visibly calm and relax a group of highly stressed chicks. In fact, the researchers said the antioxidant worked so well the once stressed birds even began to fall asleep!9
Other foods that are rich in glutathione are asparagus, spinach, garlic, squash, zucchini, grapefruit, strawberries and peaches.
Now this next one is a prescription for slashing stress I think we can ALL get behind. It turns out the deliciously sweet tropical fruit papaya could be the perfect solution for bringing your stress levels back down.
Papayas are ridiculously rich in vitamin C. In fact they contain over 224 percent of the daily recommended intake of this vital vitamin. Which is fantastic if you’re feeling anxious because researchers tell us hardworking C can help you slash both the physical and psychological effects of stress.
In one German study, for example, researchers sent volunteers stress levels shooting through the roof by having them do public speaking combined with solving math problems (shudder). But the half of the group that took 1,000 mg of vitamin C prior to completing the tasks showed significantly less signs of stress including lower levels of the “fight or flight” hormone cortisol and lower blood pressure.10
Other animal studies have shown that C effectively lowers cortisol levels. For example, in a study reported on by the American Chemical Society, rats that were put under stress for an hour a day for three weeks and then given 200 milligrams of C had significant drops in their stress hormones compared to rats that got a placebo.11
Not a papaya fan? Other foods that are high in vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries and pineapple.
1. “The homocysteine hypothesis of depression.” Am J Psychiatry. 2007, 164 (6): 861-867. 10.1176/appi.ajp.164.6.861.
2. “Serum folate and homocysteine and depressive symptoms among Japanese men and women.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010, 64 (3): 289-296. 10.1038/ejcn.2009.143.
3. “Dietary intake of folate, other B vitamins, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in relation to depressive symptoms in Japanese adults.” Nutrition. 2008, 24 (2): 140-147.
4. “Folate intake and depressive symptoms in Japanese workers considering SES and job stress factors: J-HOPE study,” BMC Psychiatry 201212:33
5. “Serum folate, vitamin B-12, and homocysteine and their association with depressive symptoms among U.S. adults,” Psychosom Med. 2010, 72 (9): 862-873.
6. “The effects of stress and aging on glutathione metabolism,” Ageing Research Reviews, Volume 4, Issue 2, May 2005, Pages 288–314
7. “Oxidative Imbalance and Anxiety Disorders, Curr Neuropharmacol. 2014 Mar; 12(2): 193–204.
8. “Glyoxalase 1 and glutathione reductase 1 regulate anxiety in mice,” Nature. 2005 Dec 1;438(7068):662-6. Epub 2005 Oct 23.
9. “Intracerebroventricular injection of glutathione and its derivative induces sedative and hypnotic effects under an acute stress in neonatal chicks,” Neurosci Lett. 2007 May 11;418(1):87-91. Epub 2007 Mar 3.
10. “A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduction of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress,” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Jan;159(3):319-24. Epub 2001 Nov 20.
11. “Scientists Say Vitamin C May Alleviate The Body’s Response To Stress.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 1999.
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