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Foods that keep stress at bay

health and fitness Updated: Sep 05, 2011 14:38 IST
Vibhuti Jaitly
Vibhuti Jaitly
Hindustan Times
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Today's fast paced life has left people complaining of being stressed out and tired all the time. The causes of stress in our lives can range from deadlines at work, a tense relationship, health issues, finances, lifestyle related issues, lack of sleep and many others.

Remaining under tons of pressure and stress makes you feel tired and fatigued. Stress is linked not only to depression but to other life threatening diseases such as heart diseases, lung diseases and even cancer.

When you are stressed, you are more likely to reach for quick foods, sugar pick-me-ups and caffeine. While you may get a temporary fix, these are the foods that will increase your stress levels. During times of high stress, harmful internal toxins are formed.

NutsAdded to these toxins are the chemicals in the processed and junk food. The wrong foods can create a vicious cycle - as you stress, your body produces internal toxins, you add up the external toxins by consuming wrong food items which end up making you feel worse and again you stress out. Hence the cycle continues.

Eating and including right food items in your diet can work wonders for you and can help combating this negative aspect of our lives.

1. Almonds - Almonds are full of vitamin E, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system of the body. Almonds also have vitamin B, which keeps the body under control during stressful situations. Other nuts such as walnuts, pistachios help keeping the heart from racing during stressful times.

2. Flaxseed - This is the most effective stress busting food item. The three major components of flax seed are omega-3, lignans (a phyto chemical) and fibre. Omega 3 reduces risk of developing cardio-vascular disease. Lignans inhibit the action of estrogen in the body and also acts as anti-oxidants. Fibre in flaxseed regulates digestive function and lowers cholesterol levels.

Make sure you restrict your intake to one teaspoon per day or you will end up piling on pounds soon.

3. Chamomile - Earlier, chamomile was consumed to calm hysteria but today it is used to relieve anxiety. It has been proved that helps relieve cramps and several digestive problems associated with nervous disorder.

Have one cup of chamomile tea daily or when you are under pressure.

4. Finger millet/Raagi - Finger millet contains calcium. Research has shown that calcium helps reduce irritability and nervousness. It is also effective in alleviating symptoms associated with premenstrual stress in females.

Consume two tablespoons of raagi daily by mixing it in your wheat flour.

5. Milk - Another bedtime stress buster is a glass of warm milk. Milk is a remedy for insomnia and restlessness. Researchers have found that calcium eases anxiety and mood swing.

Consume skim or low fat milk.

Oranges6. Oranges - Vitamin C helps reducing stress and helps in bringing back the blood pressure to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C also helps boosting the immune system. So the next time you need to ease your mind, sit down and relax while peeling a large orange.

7. Spinach - This leafy vegetable contains magnesium but when deficient in the body can cause headaches and fatigue. Spinach and other dark leafy vegetables like asparagus also contain vitamin B-complex which aids in the production of Serotonin. This substance is vital in relieving your stress because it boosts your mood.

8. Sweet Potatoes - Consuming sweet potatoes can be stress reducing because they can satisfy the urge that you get for carbohydrates and sweet when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed with beta-carotene and other vitamins and the fibre helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.

Besides changing your eating habits, one of the best stress busting strategies is- Exercising. Aerobics increases oxygen circulation and produces endorphins- a chemical that makes you feel happy. To get the maximum benefit, aim for a 30-minute workout, three to four times a week.

(With inputs from Dr. Richa Bansal, Ayurvedic doctor at Dr Shikha's Nutrihealth)