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From Plate to Peace: Managing Stress Through Diet and Supplements

Updated: May 18

Stress hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline play crucial roles in our survival during times of danger and alarm. However, their levels often remain elevated long after the immediate threat has passed, preventing us from returning to a calm state and disrupting our sleep.

To combat these effects, certain vitamins and minerals are essential for healing our stress response. These include B vitamins (of which there are several types), vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and beneficial gut bacteria. Here's a list of foods rich in these nutrients:

- Dried Apricots: A tasty snack that's high in magnesium—a natural muscle relaxant that also helps reduce heart palpitations and is crucial during stress when magnesium levels drop. Apricots are also rich in vitamin C and fiber, supporting a strong immune system.

- Asparagus: Known for its high folic acid content, asparagus can alleviate anxiety, with a single cup providing two-thirds of the daily recommended value.

- Avocados: These fruits are packed with B vitamins necessary for healthy brain and nerve cells, and potassium, which helps manage stress levels.

- Bananas: High in potassium and natural beta-adrenergic blockers, bananas help lower blood pressure and prevent spikes in adrenaline. They also contain B vitamins and tryptophan, which converts into serotonin—the hormone associated with happiness.

- Broccoli and Green Leafy Vegetables: Rich in vitamin C, which can lower cortisol levels. Kale and spinach are also excellent sources of magnesium and folate, aiding in the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

- Blueberries: These berries are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, helping to maintain calm and protect cells.

- Fermented Foods: Since 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut, maintaining gut health is essential for overall happiness. Foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee, kombucha, and yogurt can promote a healthy gut flora, impacting our brain chemistry positively.

- Fish (especially salmon): Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish help prevent spikes in cortisol and adrenaline, supporting heart health, which is crucial during stressful periods.

- Garlic: As a restorative herb, garlic helps balance a stressful lifestyle, reduces fatigue, and supports adrenal function, thus helping to manage stress hormone production.

- Yogurt: A probiotic-rich food shown to relieve stress and anxiety by reducing activity in the brain's emotional regions.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help manage stress effectively and maintain overall well-being.

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