x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ten best foods for dealing with stress

Stress hurts. Here's how to soothe your pain with food.

Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. JB Reed / Bloomberg News
Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. JB Reed / Bloomberg News

It is difficult to know precisely how stress affects health but research continues to uncover evidence that it increases the risk of problems including infection, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, infertility and hormonal disturbances. The list goes on.

Most disturbing, perhaps, is research from the Yale University professor Tian Xu, who discovered that emotional stress can trigger the growth of tumours, increasing the risk of cancer.

But even if we can't measure the risks definitively, we already know how to reduce them. Nutrition can play a vital role in counteracting the effects of stress since certain foods contain exactly what our bodies need to deal with stress effectively. Here is what to start eating to soothe your body and mind.

Brown rice

It's full of B vitamins, which are essential for your nervous system, hormonal balance and getting energy from your food. B vitamins enhance your mood and improve your body's ability to deal with stress.

Avocados

Packed with 14 different minerals that get depleted when you are stressed, avocados are a great way to put these minerals back.

Coconut water

The most hydrating fluid you can drink, coconut water is rich with minerals that help to ground the body and keep our cells happy. Drinking coconut water is an efficient way to feed the body key minerals and hydrate at the same time.

Bananas

They're full of potassium. Studies have shown that a deficiency in potassium increases your susceptibility to feeling stressed.

Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and goji berries all have an abundance of antioxidants to combat the free radical damage to your body during moments of stress. They also have a lot of vitamin C to boost your immune system.

Almonds

Rich in essential fatty acids and magnesium, almonds are excellent support for your adrenal glands, which are key to your body's stress response. They contain good mood-boosting properties, too.

Green foods

Calming and soothing, green foods have a bounty of minerals and vitamins to support and nourish your body, helping to create peace from a cellular level by restoring lost minerals that get used up under stress. Choose kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, alfalfa, rocket, broccoli, asparagus and bok choy.

Sunflower seeds

Full of B vitamins that get depleted when we are under stress, sunflower seeds soothe the nervous and digestive systems as well as help balance hormones.

Dark chocolate

The darker, the better. Try 70 to 80 per cent cacao. It has an abundance of magnesium and antioxidants and at the same time makes you feel good by boosting your serotonin levels.

Herbal teas

Green tea is wonderful for antioxidants. Fennel tea supports hormonal balance. Nettle tea is full of magnesium, which raises serotonin levels and neutralises the acid caused by stress. Valerian tea before bedtime will help you get a peaceful night's sleep.

Stress-inducing culprits

Certain foods can increase the stress within your body and potentially do even more harm. These foods should be avoided, especially if you are already feeling the strain of stress within your system.

• caffeine

• carbonated drinks

• refined sugar in cakes, cookies and sweets

• foods that contain preservatives, MSG or artificial flavourings

• salty foods

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