Can food help in moments of high stress?


Food is an incredibly powerful tool that we can use to support us in many ways, including our physical and mental health, energy levels, performance, sleep patterns, and mood fluctuations. Below you will find a number of pointed recommendations to improve both your mind and your body’s performance during moments of high stress.

Food for your mind

An important thing to understand is that the way you nourish your body can be both helpful and harmful during difficult moments or strenuous periods in our lives. Some foods can be beneficial because of the potent medicinal properties they contain, which positively impact mental calmness and anxiousness. In other circumstances, foods can be detrimental because they promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Many of the convenient and highly processed products we are attracted to during our busiest and most taxing periods may increase the symptoms we are trying to soothe.

Physically and mentally straining times are also known to suppress appetite, which doesn’t allow the body to receive the necessary nutrients required for optimal performance. Understanding how food can be beneficial or detrimental is the first step in educating yourself on using your body’s fuel to help your mental health.


What to eat to relieve stress and anxiety

What exactly is released in your brain when you are stressed? Cortisol. This is the hormone that fosters a distressing response when the body feels overwhelmed, fearful, under pressure, in danger or anxious. These are a few things you can eat that help with anxiousness and restlessness.

  • Eating warm oats in the evenings is a great way to combat anxious moods, due to the calming effect they have on the body. This is because they are filled with B-vitamins, fiber, and magnesium. 
  • Salmon is known to be rich in B-vitamins and tryptophan. Both assist in serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood, contributing to our overall feeling of happiness and wellness.
  • Bananas are also high in tryptophan. This amino acid is converted in the body to serotonin, reinforcing general positive feelings and emotions.


Other beneficial foods for stress

While many meals can actively assist us during moments of high stress, specific supplements called adaptogens can be used as nurturing tools. Adaptogens are components of herbal medicines that help the body adapt to physical, chemical, and biological stress. They typically come in different forms, including teas, tinctures, or capsules taken orally or added to meals.

  • Ashwagandha is very well known as the “mood booster” adaptogen. It has the medicinal properties to reduce stress, improve mental cognition, improve your overall energy levels and positively impact mood. 
  • Rhodiola is known to support stamina, mental capacity, and overall increased energy levels. 
  • Ginseng specifically targets and promotes vitality, amplifies physical performance, and combats stress and aging. 

While these are just three examples, a long list of supplements may contribute to better overall balance during times of high pressure and tension. If you are curious about how adaptogens can ease symptoms in your daily life, consult your healthcare practitioner, naturopath or herbalist so that you are taking the appropriate adaptogens for your specific bio-individual needs.

Nutrition and supplementation are forms of Self-Care. The act of taking care of your body can not only contribute to better balance during those times when we tend to perform our worst but can and will have an immeasurable impact on our longevity and quality of life.

Here are some additional links to learn more about this fascinating topic: 1, 2, and 3.



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