I don't know if it's age, wisdom, experience or all three but, the older I get, the more aggressive I am about removing any person, place, thing or idea from my life that stresses me out. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that putting "aggressive" in the context of removing stress might seem like a bit of a contradiction, but you know what they say—if nothing changes…nothing changes. Sometimes—shoot, most times—you can't just "will" something to shift in your life. You've got to develop a mindset of progress, then follow that up with habits that will help you to evolve.
When it comes to stress, I've done my research. I'm aware that it is a leading cause of premature death. So yeah, I'm definitely out here looking for things that I can do in order to be anti-stressed out. One thing that might surprise you is, altering your diet a bit can do wonders for keeping you in a cool, calm and totally relaxed state of mind. If that's something you'd like a bit more of right through here, I've got eight foods that can help you to reach your goal.
If you've ever wondered what yogurt is, it's fermented milk that creates a yogurt culture which is basically a form of fermented lactose. As a result of the yogurt-making process, lactic acid is produced; it's what gives yogurt the taste and texture that it has. As far as health benefits go, yogurt is great because it's high in calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins B and D. This means that it's the kind of food that strengthens immunity and bones, as well as being high in protein and promoting heart and gut health.
The reason why yogurt makes this particular list is thanks to the magnesium (which is a natural nerve relaxant) that is in it. Plus, a study from several years back revealed that yogurt is wonderful at treating stress and anxiety because it can actually lower the levels of activity in the brain that are directly responsible for us feeling emotions and even certain levels of pain.
2. Dark Chocolate
It's kind of crazy that something so delicious can also be so good for you. If you make a point it eat a small piece of dark chocolate (that contains no less than 60-70 percent cocoa), you can improve your blood sugar levels, fight off free radicals, improve the appearance of your skin (thanks to the antioxidants that are in it), keep your cholesterol levels under control and reduce your chances of getting heart disease by as much as 57 percent. Because dark chocolate also has a pretty good reputation for improving cognitive function, if you find yourself feeling irritated or not being in the best of moods, a little bit of it may be all that you need to lift your spirits right on up.
Garlic is the kind of plant (that's a part of the onion family) that is used for all kinds of medicinal purposes. It shortens the lifespan of colds. It improves cholesterol levels. It helps to purify blood. It contains the type of antioxidants that help to prevent the type of oxidative damage that can ultimately lead to Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Speaking of oxidative damage, another benefit that comes with eating foods that reduce it is they can help to decrease stress levels in the body too. Plus, garlic can lower glucose levels which can also induce feelings of calm and tranquility.
4. Citrus Fruit
You probably already know that citrus fruit has lots of Vitamin C (which means tons of antioxidants). But that's not all. Citrus fruit is also high in fiber, reduces the risk of kidney stones, boosts heart health and strengthens your cognitive function. If you're feeling kinda stressed out, snacking on a few slices of orange or grapefruit, or even sipping on some water that has lemon and lime in it can reduce stress levels. Why? Because that is something that Vitamin C is naturally able to do. Matter of fact, if you'd rather go the aromatherapy route, orange essential oil can relieve anxiety and reduce some of the symptoms that are associated with panic attacks; grapefruit essential oil can help to keep you from feeling burned out and lemon oil can improve your mood and instantly make you feel more relaxed.
5. Bell Peppers
Whether they're red, orange, yellow or green, you are only doing your health a favor if you eat bell peppers on a regular basis. Not only do they contain vitamins A, C and E, they are also a vegetable that is loaded with fiber, folate and iron. On the health tip, bell peppers contain 30 different carotenoids (a type of plant chemicals) that help to keep your eyes healthy as they also fight off free radicals. Something else that's cool about red bell peppers specifically is, if you eat a cup of them, you'll get over 150 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C that you need.
Bell peppers are considered to be a "calming food" due to the Vitamin B6 that they have in them. It's the kind of vitamin that helps your brain to produce serotonin and norepinephrine so that you remain in a tranquil mood throughout the day and you're able to sleep more soundly at night.
6. Whole Grains
In a nutshell, whole grains are foods that consist of the entire grain—the bran, germ and endosperm. When you choose to eat whole grain foods, it can benefit you because, not only are whole grains packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and B vitamins but whole grains can also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and reduce chronic inflammation as well as support healthy digestion. If you consume whole grain popcorn, cereal, pasta or bread, another thing that whole grain can do is help to release serotonin into your system, causing you to feel happier and more at ease than before you ate it.
7. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is something that I am personally a big fan of. I like sour stuff so I will give you a heads up that it does have a bit of a "bite" to it. But, after a couple of cups, it's pretty easy to get used to. Anyway, this is a type of juice that is high in vitamins A and C. It also contains some manganese, potassium and Vitamin K. If you're an athlete, it's great at relieving muscle soreness. One study reveals that tart cherry juice can reduce inflammation that is related to arthritis. It's also the kind of juice that contains antioxidants that help to keep your brain in good condition. Drink it hot or cold before turning in at night and tart cherry juice will significantly increase your chances of getting a good night's sleep; that's thanks to the tryptophan and anthocyanins that's in it. Both of these compounds work together to create melatonin, which is a natural hormone in the body that helps to promote calm and ultimately, sleepiness.
There are several reasons why it can only work in your favor to snack on a handful of pistachios a couple of times a week. They are a pretty good source of protein and fiber. They're also high in copper (which is great if you're trying to fight premature greying the natural way). The health benefits of pistachios include the fact that they are loaded with antioxidants, they help to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and they have amino acid L-arginine in them. L-arginine is good because, when it changes over to nitric oxide in your system, not only can that increase blood circulation throughout your body, it can help your blood vessels to relax as well. Plus, being that pistachios contain more Vitamin B6 than most other foods, it's the kind of nut that can definitely keep you calm, cool and well-rested. Now, how about getting yourself a bag of 'em?
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