It’s not been an ideal day. A breakfast-table argument, a stressful day at work, and an ugly showdown with the boss are all it took to ruin it completely. Before you know it, the positivity is wearing off, and you are not your normal self. Your mood is sinking, the heart starts pounding, and your breath becomes rapid. It’s all gloom and doom. Instinctively, you reach out for the medicine box. Hold on!
People who use anti-anxiety medication have a 36% increased mortality risk, according to a 2010 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry report. While drugs are absolutely essential in certain cases, natural alternatives can work wonders for most of us. More and more research points out that select dietary modification can alter your chemical and physiological structure, reduce stress, and ease anxiety.
Often called the world’s healthiest food, salmon and other fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) – key nutrients our body doesn’t produce. Studies show omega-3 keeps stress hormones at bay and keeps a check on the cortisol and adrenaline levels. It is also associated with lower levels of depression. Salmon is an excellent source of tryptophan, an all-natural sedative. Another side benefit – it protects your heart.
According to a recent study, eating probiotic yogurt twice a day can ease anxiety by reducing activity in the emotional area of the brain. Yogurt is rich in good bacteria (acidophilus), and soothes the nervous digestive systems resulting from stress. The high protein content in yogurt helps stimulate the production of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine – hormones that help relieve anxiety. It is also high in calcium and magnesium that help calm muscles and control blood pressure.
Extracted from the saffron crocus plant, saffron is one of the most prized and rare herbs in the world today. It has been an integral component in traditional healing, and is known to work wonders for respiratory illnesses like asthma, joint pain, and sleep troubles. Recent studies show saffron has the ability to boost levels of serotonin, reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. It has antidepressant effects likened to medicines like Prozac and Tofranil. Saffron also contains antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins A, B, C, and folic acid that aid digestion, lower the risk of cancer, and control cholesterol. The mood-enhancing efforts of saffron also control compulsive eating.
Brew your worries! The act of drinking tea has long been associated with positive mood and a feeling of relaxation. For millennia, tea has been used for a calmer mind and better health. People who drink black tea are able to de-stress faster than the ones who don’t. Green tea is not just high in antioxidants but also contains theanine, an amino acid that has been linked to relaxation, higher attention, and increased focus. Organic chamomile, found in a variety of tea, is rejuvenating and soothes the nerves. It also acts as a sleeping aid.
5. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is packed with nutrition. It is a good source of fiber and carbohydrates, and contains essential minerals such as manganese, copper, and iron. It is also loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to the feel-good hormone serotonin in your body. It is known to boost immunity, ease muscle cramps, stabilize blood sugar levels, and regulate heart function.
So, the next time you are feeling stressed, ditch the pill, load up a plate, and eat your way to Zen!