Five Stress-Defeating Food Choices

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Dark Chocolate and other products

Life sure can deliver us some stressful times. Sometimes you need a little pick-me-up and other times you need some massive comfort. Don’t turn to poor food choices during periods of stress, because, honestly, those foods will make you feel worse! There are dozens of foods out there that have been researched and found to be stress-beating and mood-boosting. Here are five of my favorites!

  • Avocados

We need B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells, and feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B-vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. They’re also high in mono-unsaturated fat, which feeds the brain, and can help boost mood. So make up your best batch of guacamole, or simply have some sliced avocado on a salad or on a piece of whole-grain toast.

  • Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries

I know, I cheated, these are actually three separate foods, but they fight stress the same way! These little fruits are excellent choices because they are big on antioxidants that have stress-relieving properties.  Berries are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which can keep our cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in check

  • Pistachios

Pistachios are packed with amazing nutrients, such as B-complex, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper, potassium, and other minerals. All of these nutrients put together make for one amazing stress-busting team!

  • Oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be a breakfast-only food choice; it’s a super healthy snack to have, especially during stressful times. Oatmeal helps get the calm-inducing hormone serotonin flowing. Go with thick-cut, old fashioned oats that require cooking instead of instant oatmeal. Why? Coarse oats are higher in fiber and so they take longer to digest (meaning their calming effect actually lasts longer).

  • Dark Chocolate

Last, but not least, grab a couple of squares of dark chocolate! Chocolate has an undeniable link to mood; we eat more chocolate if we are depressed to make ourselves feel better. And it works. Just be sure to stick with dark chocolate, which not only has healthy antioxidants, but can also lower blood pressure, making us feel calmer and more relaxed. Now who’s going to argue with that?

Next time you are feeling depressed or stressed, apply these nutritional food choices into your daily routine, and you will feel a whole lot better!

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Fix your Gut Health and Thrive

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probioticsChances are, at some point in your life, you have experienced digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation). And you are not alone! Over 100 million Americans have intestinal health problems, ranging from chronic constipation to Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS). These discomforts are signals that you need to improve your gut health and get this? If you mend your gut (intestinal) health, you are doing way more than aiding your digestion—you are improving your overall health! How?

Your gut is actually responsible for 70-90% of your immune system. You need your gut to be healthy in order to assimilate the nutrients you need to be healthy overall. And do you realize that a healthy gut can improve your mood? Consider your gut as your “second” brain; its nervous system actually has more neurotransmitters (mood boosters) than your brain!

Your intestinal tract is home to 100 trillion microorganisms—there are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your entire body! In order to establish a healthy gut, you need to make sure that the healthy bacteria in your intestines are thriving and the unhealthy bacteria are not. Sadly, many factors in today’s lifestyle contribute to the production of unhealthy bacteria, including: antibiotics, stress, processed food (particularly refined grains and sugars devoid of fiber).

So the first step to improving your gut health is to improve your diet. Try the 90/10 rule, making sure that 90% of your food is wholesome and nutritious and allowing yourself some not-so healthy treats from time to time. A diet comprised of plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruit will make your digestive flora happy. Fermented foods will even further boost your healthy gut flora; try kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi (a delicious Korean delight), or sauerkraut. Also, keep your stress levels in check; consider yoga, tai chi, or meditation. And the best way to assure that your healthy gut flora thrive is to take a probiotic along with your healthy, wholesome food plan.

My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive. Many of the probiotics on the market do not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100% of the healthy flora, in their capsules, survives and hence, you thrive quite literally. Since I have been taking Just Thrive probiotics, I feel more energetic and ready to take on any challenge! I have also noticed that I rarely catch colds, even when I am surrounded by people who have nasty bugs that are swarming around.

Get your gut health in order and you will thrive!