Stress. It’s a big deal and is affecting more and more of us each year. In fact, according to the Stress Management Society it’s become the single biggest cause of workplace sickness in Britain.
Many of us need something more than a stress ball or a few deep breaths to stop us feeling those stress triggers. When it comes to combatting stress levels, what you eat might actually have an effect on your tension.
Nutritionist and Director of Food for Fitness Scott Baptie shares eight food and drink ideas that will help you stop feeling wrung out and have you feeling well instead for Stress Awareness Month in April.
Depression has been linked to low levels of folic acid and a couple of stems of asparagus provides a whopping two thirds of your daily intake.
Cooking tip: Try sautéing some tips for a super-tasty omelette.
Vitamin B is essential for healthy nerves and brain cells and some studies have suggested that feelings of anxiety may be influenced by low levels. Not only are avocados rich in monounsaturated fat but they’re a great source of the B Vitamins too.
Cooking tip: A homemade guacamole is a great addition to Mexican dishes.
Packed with antioxidants, blueberries are a great source of Vitamin C which is important to help protect and repair cells during times of stress.
Cooking tip: Sprinkle some on your breakfast to start the day off on the right foot.
Spinach is packed with magnesium which can help regulate cortisol levels. Not only that, but it is an excellent source of fibre and fibrous foods can minimise hunger, which itself can be a stressor.
Cooking tip: Spinach makes a great addition to an egg-based breakfast.
A cup of camomile tea before bed may help calm your nerves and promote a relaxing sleep. A study from the University of Pennsylvania which tested chamomile supplements on 57 sufferers of anxiety found it led to a significant drop in symptoms.
Cooking tip: Swap fizzy drinks or alcohol in the evening for a cup of this calming tea.
Milk is a time and tested pre-bed drink to remedy insomnia (and it’s a great source of protein too). Lactium which is found in milk has been shown to have a calming effect by lowering blood pressure and the potassium in milk can help relieve muscle aches too.
Cooking tip: Look for savoury recipes that use milk.
Studies have shown that fish oil from fish like salmon, sardines and trout can help reduce symptoms of depression.
Cooking tip: Experiment! Try different types of oily fish for dinner, rather than sticking to the usual like salmon.
Chicken and other foods like seafood, beans and pulses and dairy are rich in an amino acid called Tryptophan which produces serotonin. Serotonin is often called a ‘happy hormone’ as a decrease in levels of it have been linked to depression.
Cooking tip: Chicken doesn’t have to be boring – try adding some pesto to a chicken breast for a spruced-up salad.
Scott Baptie is a nutritionist, fat loss expert and podcast host. You can download lots of his high-protein recipes from his website Food For Fitness.