“You are what you eat.” We’ve all heard it a thousand times before. So when my mom showed up at my house over the weekend with a bunch of bananas, I should have known there was a good reason.

“Hey, Mom. What’s with the bananas?”

“Well, kiddo, you told me you had a rough week, and I read somewhere that bananas were good for reducing your stress levels.”

So I ate a couple bananas, and I started to feel better. And that got me wondering…what other foods are good for lowering your stress levels?

If you’ve stressed out, it can really affect your productivity. In order to stay at your peak, try snacking on some of the following foods.

1. Bananas

So obviously I had to start with the food that inspired me to write this. Bananas are high in potassium, which aids in the regulation of blood pressure. Lots of other fruits and vegetables contain potassium, but it’s especially high in bananas.

In addition to stress benefits, bananas can also relieve heartburn and keep your blood sugar levels up.

2. Salmon

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which elevates your mood, thereby helping you to better cope with the aftereffects of a really tough day at the office. These fatty acids aid with brain function, meaning that you’ll have the mental acuity to keep your head when everything is going crazy around you.

Flax seeds are also high in omega-3s.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli contains folic acid. In addition to being essential for pregnant women, folic acid is also very helpful for lowering stress levels and preventing irritability. Other foods rich in folic acid include asparagus and orange juice.

4. Sugar

And you thought this article was gonna be all about healthy foods.

Foods that are high in sugar cause your body to produce fewer hormones linked to anxiety. When you ingest sugar, your body creates a hormone that counters stress reactions, called glucocorticoid.

So, while you should make sure to only eat sugar in moderation, a small taste of ice cream, cookies, or chocolate can help you to lower your stress levels almost instantly. Just be careful not to overindulge, or else you might just end up in a sugar coma.

5. Black Tea

One study conducted in England revealed that people who drank 4 cups of black tea per day for at least 6 weeks saw a marked decrease in the amount of cortisol their bodies were producing. Cortisol is a hormone linked to high stress levels, so anything you can do to limit cortisol production will help you to deal with the stumbling blocks that life puts in your way.

6. Whole Grains

A diet rich in complex carbs and whole grains encourages your body to produce increased levels of serotonin, a feel-good hormone that improves your mood and produces a sensation of relaxation.

7. Chicken Breast
Everyone knows tryptophan as a buzzword you hear a lot around Thanksgiving. But believe it or not, chicken breast actually contains a higher level of tryptophan than turkey. That means eating some chicken after a particularly stressful day can help you to get more restful sleep, a very useful benefit if you often find yourself tossing and turning when you have a lot on your mind.

Conclusion

According to nurse Elaine Magee, the way we eat can absolutely affect your mood and our ability to cope with stress. By eating the right combination of foods, we can trick our bodies and brains so that they can battle stress more effectively.

“Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so you might think that foods high in protein would increase levels of tryptophan, but the opposite is true. Tryptophan has to fight with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain. Since tryptophan is the weaker of the amino acids, generally only a small amount makes it into the brain when other amino acids are present.

But, when you eat a meal that’s almost all carbs, this triggers insulin to clear the other amino acids from your bloodstream. That leaves tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain. This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain. High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.”

As a bonus, when your stress levels are lower thanks to a better diet, you won’t be a victim of “stress eating”. In addition, lower stress means lower levels of cortisol in your body; lower levels of cortisol will make it easier for you to lose weight, particularly around your gut. Those two factors combined mean that you’re more likely to lose weight by following these eating tips. Who knew eating sensibly could make you feel so good?

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