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The best foods to reduce stress

The best foods to reduce stress

Work and family, a hectic everyday life and our fast-moving world make stress almost unavoidable. We are all stressed, but those who learn to handle stress the right way do not need to worry about the impact on their health. Combine exercise, relaxation and a balanced and varied diet in your anti-stress programme. This will calm you and keep you fit. We’ll show you how it works.

Stress has its benefits – but not over the long term 

Who would have thought it? Stress is vital for survival. Originally, it was the body’s warning signal in reaction to danger or sensory overload. For example, if we are exposed to noise, a threat or social tension, our body releases stress hormones, especially adrenaline. This increases blood pressure and muscle tension. Energy is released so that the body is ready to run away or fight. This is often referred to as the “fight or flight syndrome”.

If we become physically active in a stress situation – which is the case in nature – our bodies then reduce the amount of stress hormones. If we remain inactive, the concentration of stress hormones in the blood remains at a heightened level. In the event of long-term stress, the hormone cortisol is released, which can really play havoc with our nerves and knock the body out of balance.

You will never be able to completely avoid stress. However, you can stay calm: sufficient movement, a varied and balanced diet with less high-energy food, and regular relaxation will all help.

Vitamins and minerals and their “anti-stress” effect

Vitamins and minerals “Anti-stress” effect Good sources
B vitamins Support the normal function of the metabolism and nervous system Whole-wheat products, pork, potatoes, milk and milk products, fish, vegetables, pulses, nuts
Vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E Protect the cells against free radicals Fruit and vegetables (vitamin C is found especially in citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers and kale), pulses, plant oils, nuts, seeds
Magnesium Regulation of nerve and muscle stimuli  Whole-wheat products, pulses, potatoes, green vegetables, soft fruit, nuts,
Calcium Among other things, regulation of signals to nerves and muscles Milk and milk products, cheese,
Potassium To maintain water and electrolyte balance Fruit, vegetables, pulses

Good mood – homemade

Our bodies produce a “good mood hormone”: serotonin. The higher the serotonin levels in the brain, the more balanced and relaxed we feel. The amino acid tryptophan, found in protein-rich foods such as cheese, poultry, lean meat, fish and pulses, forms the building blocks for the "good mood hormone".

Carbohydrates such as sugar in chocolate and cocoa ensure that tryptophan finds its way to the brain. So feel free to enjoy a piece of chocolate or cup of delicious cocoa from time to time – this can help to lift your mood. In general, you should opt for carbohydrates from whole-wheat bread and pasta, brown rice and cereals, but also vegetables, pulses and fruit. These are released gradually into the bloodstream, so their effect is gradual but lasts for longer.

Additional tips for getting your balance right

  • Set yourself priorities. People with clear targets for the next few days, weeks and months ahead will focus on what’s important.
  • Deal with one thing at a time – perhaps tackling the most important and difficult tasks first. Those who try to do everything at once will easily get bogged down.
  • In the evening, make a list of things you want to achieve the next day. Then you will not forget anything and it will help you to keep a clear head.
  • Are you a perfectionist? If you always want everything to be perfect, ask yourself why. Is this due to your own expectations, or those of others which you might be taking too seriously?
  • Consciously take time to relax – using a relaxation technique such as stretching, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga or meditation autogenic training.

Stress is good for us, but only in “fight or flight” situations. Long term stress due to our everyday lifestyle is a heavy burden to carry. Let us use a mix of good food and good mood to combat our daily stress and balance our lifestyle patterns