Home Story Stress kills. Here’s How To Kill It First

Stress kills. Here’s How To Kill It First

No matter what we do, stress seems to be our constant companion. Here are some simple foods to keep it at bay.

Have you ever felt stressed? If your answer is no, you are either a liar or a saint who has achieved nirvana.

For everybody else, stress is a fact of life, a constant companion that erodes our physical and mental health, and shortens our lifespans. Each and every one of us undergoes stress in our daily lives. Whether it’s our work or our personal lives, whether you are rich or poor, you just can’t seem to escape it.

But not all stress is bad for you. Good stress, for instance is when we feel excited about something, when our hormones surge and our pulse speeds up, but it’s not due to a threat or fear. Do you remember falling in love? That promotion, that first date, that euphoric feeling when you achieved something which you never thought you could? That feeling of being alive and excited about life?

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Bad stress, on the other hand, is when we worry and fret over our lives. It increases our heart beat, wearing it out before its time. It raises our blood pressure and cholesterol. It increases
cortisol, a type of hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar, and raises the sugar level in our body, which can lead to insulin resistance and high blood sugar. It weakens our bones,
makes us prone to obesity, gives us restless sleep, and aggravates conditions like heartburn and inflammatory bowel problems. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of premature death across the world.

Yet it’s not all that difficult to beat. You don’t really have to lie or achieve nirvana to remove bad stress from your life. All that you need is proper nutrition, good sleep and a positive
mindset.

Food for thought

Do you remember how happy and contented you felt after a good, wholesome meal?

Nutritional psychiatry, which some refer to as psycho-nutrition, explains how a good diet and mental health go hand-in-hand. Our body depends on Tryptophan, an amino acid to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that takes care of our overall wellbeing. Tryptophan is also used by the body to make melatonin, which helps us with a good sleep.

So foods that possess high levels of tryptophan and healthy carbs can have a calming effect on our brain. These foods are also referred to as “snooze foods”. These include beans, hummus, lentils, whole grains, almonds, peanuts and other nuts, eggs or milk, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

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Easy does it

Eat light at night, at least a few hours before you hit the sack, because heavy meals tend to disturb your sleep.

Eat Regularly: Irregular eating habits are the bane of modern life. They cause a sharp drop in our blood sugar level, inducing lethargy and ennui. We tend to feel tired, irritated and depressed the entire day.

Ensure Proper Hydration: Our body is dependent on water. It not only helps flush out toxins, it also lubricates our joints, regulates body temperature, and keeps our complexion glowing.
Insufficient water can not only cause several ailments, it also hampers our focus and hinders our daily routine.

Have veggies and fruits: Just five serving fruits and vegetables a day can work wonders on our stress levels. Loaded with many nutrients, vitamins and fiber, they protect us from falling ill frequently, and also perk up our mood.

Trust your gut: Sometimes, our gut determines whether we feel, happy, sad or depressed. If we get stressed or anxious, our gut functioning might become slow or speed up. For a healthy gut, we need to consume plenty of fibre, drink ample fluid and last but not the least, exercise regularly.

Protein pays: Protein contains amino acids, which produce chemicals required by the brain to regulate our thoughts and feelings. It also helps us feel full for a long period of time. Lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds, etc are rich sources of protein.

Cut caffeine: Caffeine is a major stimulant which boosts our mood instantly and provides us with a surge of energy. But at the same time, it can trigger anxiety and depression, and lead to
disturbed sleep, particularly if you have it before bedtime. But remember that quitting caffeine completely could result in withdrawal symptoms making matters worse. Moderation is the key here.

Fat fact: Our brain requires fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and -6 to keep it working well. Therefore instead of giving up on fats completely, we must pick and choose foods that provide healthy fats. Oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs provide healthy fats to our body.

Try out these simple tips, and watch your bad stress fade away.

(Bipasha Das is a lifestyle coach and diet counsellor. She tweets @Bipasha1sugati

Abhishika Mohanty is a nutritionist who works with Bipasha at her wellness centre, Sugati)