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How can food act as a stress medicine?

Alan Gaby
Nutrition & Dietetics
In my experience, the most important dietary changes that may increase a person's ability to tolerate stress are avoiding refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. The most important nutrients for improving stress tolerance are usually magnesium and B vitamins. Good sources of these nutrients include whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The role of nutritional factors in stress is discussed further in chapter 335 of my textbook, Nutritional Medicine (www.doctorgaby.com).  
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

To fight stress eat:

  • A few creamy bites of guacamole: Avocados are loaded with B vitamins, which stress quickly depletes and which your body needs in order to maintain healthy nerves and brain cells. Or try getting your avocado fix with this Brazilian-inspired shake.
  • A palmful of mixed nuts: Walnuts help replace those stress-depleted B vitamins, Brazil nuts hop you up on zinc (which is also drained by high anxiety), almonds boost your E (which helps fight cellular damage linked to chronic stress), and pistachios can soften the impact stress hormones have on the body.
  • A plate of roasted asparagus: Each tender stalk is a source of folic acid, a natural mood lightener. Dip the spears in fat-free yogurt or sour cream for a hit of calcium with each bite.
  • A spinach salad: These leafy greens are packed with magnesium, which helps regulate your body's level of cortisol, which tends to get depleted when we're under pressure.
  • A bowl of whole-wheat pasta: All carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more serotonin, which is a feel-good chemical. Other healthy options include whole-grain breakfast cereals, breads, and oatmeal. Complex carbs also help you feel balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels.
  • Good-for-you fish: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and trout, can protect your heart from surges in stress hormones. Aim to eat 4 ounces of fatty fish at least three times a week.
  • A cup of warm milk: Your mother knew what she was doing. Milk (skim, please!) is the perfect bedtime stress buster.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.