Exercise can do amazing things for our body; it can relieve stress and boost our moods by releasing feel-good hormones, it can relieve aches and pains caused by a sedentary lifestyle and it can decrease our risk of many chronic diseases all while keeping us at (or helping us get to) a healthy weight.
While you may have already heard that exercise is extremely effective at treating depression, anxiety and stress, did you know that the foods you consume can also be used to boost your mood and relieve stress?
A research group in the UK recently launched The Food and Mood Project, which helped to identify "food stressors" and "food supporters," that either exacerbate stress or help to relieve it.
Nearly 90% of the projects' participants reported that their mental health had improved significantly with changes in diet.
Participants reported that cutting down or avoiding "food stressors" like sugar, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate had the most impact on mental health, along with consuming more "food supporters" like water, fruits and veggies and oil-rich fish.
If you're feeling stressed or need a boost in your mood, try incorporating these Top 5 Stress-Fighting Foods into your diet:
1. Heart-healthy nuts such as almonds and walnuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid which helps to promote relaxation and boost serotonin, low levels of which can contribute to moodiness and depression.
2. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are great sources of magnesium, a mineral which helps improve your body’s response to stress and may even prevent migraine headaches.
3. Fruits that are high in vitamin C, like oranges, which help to fight stress-related free radicals.
4. Omega-3 rich fish like salmon and albacore tuna can also boost serotonin levels and regulate anxiety related hormones like cortisol.
5. Foods that are high in B-vitamins, such as eggs and oatmeal, which can combat stress by maintaining nerves and brain cells health and by converting food into energy for the body.
“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." --Hippocrates
"Fight Stress With Food." Today's Dietitian Health and Nutrition Center
"Eat Right to Fight Stress." Psychology Today