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Basically, humans have evolved with a “Fight or Flight” response and any stress or perceived stress can trigger that response. Messengers are sent from the brain to increase your ability to fight or to run away. There’s a price to be paid, however…

We all experience stress—every day, and all the time.  Stress means different things to different people—and stress affects everyone differently.  No matter who you are, though, long-term stress will negatively affect everyone in some way.

The good news is that there are foods available to help you cope with all the stress in our lives.  Here’s a list of my “Top Ten”.

  • Blueberries:
    Blueberries contain lots of bio-flavenoids, Vitamins C and E, all of which are very important anti-oxidants.  Anti-oxidants help “sop up” free radicals, compounds that are known to increase in stressful situations and to damage tissues and organs. Vitamin C is also required for cortisol, adrenaline and serotonin synthesis. Low serotonin is associated with depression, insomnia and other mood disorders.  Increasing the amount of serotonin available seems to benefit people under stress as well. 

Blueberries also contain minerals like magnesium  and manganese, shown to be helpful in reducing stress. Magnesium deficiency is very common and eating foods high in magnesium is a good idea for everyone. Cranberries will work as well!

  • Apricots: Apricots are high in the anti-oxidant vitamins C and E, but they also have a high level of Vitamin A and beta-carotenes.  Vitamin A and beta-carotenes are important to maintain immunity, vision and to keep the skin strong.  Apricots are also a good source of potassium, the mineral that has the highest concentration in our cells. Apricots are also high in phytosterols-plant compounds that are helpful in maintaining a healthy cholesterol level.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt is a great source of calcium.  We have all heard about calcium for bone, but calcium is also important in minimizing the negative effects of stress.    Also, yogurt is a good source of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D has been in the new recently as being much more appreciated, especially in terms of minimizing those stress effects.  This can be especially important during winter months when a person doesn’t get enough sun. It is also important because Vitamin D deficiencies are also associated with auto-immune disorders.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice has high levels of B-vitamins.  The B-vitamins are extremely important in maintaining cells, tissues and organs.  They are the mediators in a large number of biochemical reactions involved in energy, brain function, healthy red blood cells, immunity, cardiac function—just about every body system there is! B-vitamins have been shown to help reduce stress and are often used to treat various mood disorders.1 Brown rice is especially rich in the B-vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and Vitamin B-6.  Another advantage to brown rice is that it contains almost a third of the daily amount of selenium nutritionists believe we need for a healthy thyroid and immune system.
  • Fish - especially salmon have high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids.  These fatty acids are strong anti-inflammatory agents. Since stress produces so many inflammatory by-products, the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in fish can be especially important. Fish also contains lots of B-vitamins and minerals.
  • Dark green vegetables: As a family, the dark green vegetables are rich in Vitamins C, A and B-vitamins.  They also are rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus—all of which are so important in maintaining all the body functions. Some dark leafy greens, like chard contain significant amounts of Vitamin K as well—and Vitamin K is needed for proper blood clotting.
  • Oranges:  Maybe your mom always told you to drink your orange juice!  She was right (of course!)  Oranges are high in Vitamin C and have significant amounts of Vitamin A and the B vitamins as well as being loaded with minerals.
  • Turkey: Remember all those Thanksgiving dinners when you felt nice and relaxed….and full? Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid which is the precursor of serotonin. In addition, turkey is a high protein food with B-vitamins and minerals and a reasonably good balance of fatty acids.
  • Nuts—especially walnuts, almonds and pistachios are high in Vitamin E, Vitamin Bs and minerals.  They are a great source of fiber as well and are strongly anti-inflammatory.
  • Avocados: Avocados are rich in minerals, protein, vitamins (especially Vitamins C and E) and are high in fiber as well.

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