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Do you stress about being stressed?

By Monica van de Weerd

Best Foods and Supplements for Stress

Do you stress about being stressed?

I feel you. 

Some of us may not realise that stress is more than an emotion – it’s a physical response of the nervous system that affects the whole body. While stress can be helpful in small doses and motivate you into action, chronic stress can alter our brain and lead to hair loss, muscle tension, digestive issues, sexual dysfunction and chronic diseases.1

As someone who has experienced their fair share of stress, I’ve come to realise that it’s not necessarily enough for me to deal with stress when it arises. Eating a healthy diet and sticking to grounding daily practices makes me less prone to sweating the small stuff. Plus, that way, I’m equipped with proper tools that help me manage when significant stress does arise.

The Best Foods and Vitamins for Stress

Here are some common nutrients that you can start taking today to help manage your stress. 

1.     Omega-3 

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain and mood health. If you don’t receive enough omega-3 from your diet, your brain will be unable to work optimally and be exposed to injury, disease and inflammation. Fatigue, overwhelm, and an inability to focus are all associated with an omega-3 deficiency. The research shows that eating omega-3 rich food on an ongoing basis can play a protective role against stress.2 My favourite sources of omega-3 are oily fish like salmon, mackerel and herring, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds. If you’re fishing for a swimmingly tasty recipe, my Crispy Salmon is the one for you.  

2.     B-Complex Vitamins 

There are eight different B vitamins, each serving a specific purpose that the body needs for general wellbeing. Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 help maintain a healthy nervous system by improving energy and fighting stress. 

A 2019 Meta-Analysis assessed the impact B vitamins have on stress symptoms. Six out of the ten studies found that B vitamin supplementation significantly reduced participants stress symptoms.3 Sources of B vitamins include fresh vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts, meat, poultry and eggs. If you’re a nut for nuts, you’ll love my Sweet Spiced Nuts.  

3.     Turmeric

If you’ve ever read a blog written by a health blogger, I’m sure you’ve picked up on the adoration for turmeric. Turmeric, the wonder spice, contains an active ingredient called curcumin. Curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine and is proven to prevent stress-related symptoms.4 

My favourite way to sprinkle some turmeric into my life is my Golden Gut Blend. It combines anti-inflammatory organic turmeric with gut-healing diatomaceous earth, organic cinnamon, organic black pepper and organic ginger. It goes down like a treat in my One-Bowl Turmeric Fudge Masterpiece.

4.     Magnesium 

Magnesium plays a role in over 300 cellular processes (don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all 300!). Over 325 enzymes are magnesium-dependent, many of which are nervous system enzymes, which explains the vital role magnesium plays in stress.5

Unfortunately, high amounts of stress are associated with increased urinary excretion of magnesium, with extended periods of stress leading to a magnesium deficiency. So, if we’re stressed, we have less magnesium, which can cause more stress. Even thinking about it is making me stressed! Luckily, you can increase your magnesium through your diet. Want to know my favourite way? Chocolate. You’re welcome. I’m a little obsessed with my Chocolate and Coconut Roughs, and I think you’ll like them too. Other sources of magnesium include avocado, bananas, dark leafy green vegetables, oats and parsnips.

5.     Fulvic Humic

Have you ever heard of negative ions? Negative ions are molecules that float in the air and are electrically charged. Due to their small size, they’re absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and skin.6 The research shows that negative ion exposure can reduce symptoms of depression, enhance our mental performance, regulate sleep patterns, reduce stress and boost our mood.6 I know what you’re thinking – where do I sign up?! Ways to increase negative ion exposure include venturing outdoors, lighting a Negative Ion Candle (it has a natural lemongrass and lime aroma) and adding a few drops of our best-selling Fulvic Humic Concentrate to your water bottle.  

6.     Maca 

Maca has been consumed as a medicinal food in Peru for thousands of years due to its anti-anxiety, libido-boosting and antidepressant flavonoids.7 One animal study found that after six weeks of maca supplementation, dopamine increased, and inflammation reduced.7 If you’re looking to make maca your new mate, you’ll have to try my Chocolate Curly Wurly’s – they’re as tasty as they are fun. 

Other Remedies for Stress

Eating a balanced diet and taking supplements are essential for stress management. Complement that with lifestyle techniques, and you'll be on your way to stress-busting town. 

1.     Look After Your Gut Health 

Did you know that there’s a link between your mental health and gut health? The brain and gut are constantly communicating through the vagus nerve and neurotransmitters.8 Once you have a greater understanding of the connection between the gut and brain, you’ll know just how important it is to look after the gut for the health of your brain. If you want to be in the know-how, I wrote a whole blog about the gut-brain connection here. Show your gut some love with Love Your Gut Powder -  it helps sweep away impurities, improves nutrient absorption and manages a build-up of gas, wind and bloating. LYG helps get rid of the gunk to enable your gut to function optimally. If you’re a keen traveller or like something more compact, the Love Your Gut capsules may be more your speed. 

2.     Vedic Meditation

Like many people, I’ve dabbled with meditation for a long time and always found it hard to stick to. Vedic meditation (VM) has changed my life – and I don’t make that statement lightly. I love VM because it’s not about trying to let go of anything; VM is about acknowledging your thoughts and quietly returning to the mantra, helping to relax the body and release any stored stress. You can read more about my journey with VM here

3.     Move Your Body  

Exercise is one of my go-to forms of stress relief. Whether you’re into HIIT training, yoga or long walks, movement can help you put things into perspective. Plus, it releases our feel-good chemicals, dopamine and serotonin.9 Even 15 minutes of yoga can have a profound impact on stress.10 

4.     Take Your Time to Explore Talk Therapy

 If you’re struggling with stress, I couldn’t recommend seeking the help of a qualified therapist, psychologist or counsellor enough. Finding the right therapist can sometimes feel a bit like dating around to find your match, but I promise when you find the right one, it’s so worth it. There are several types of counsellors and therapy types, so be sure to take the time to figure out what works for you. 

5.     Prioritise Shut-Eye  

Do you know what I believe is a design flaw of human beings? When you’re stressed, it can be hard to fall asleep, but sleep is crucial for managing stress.11 Some of my essentials for sleep include creating a regular wind-down routine, watching your intake of stimulants and sticking to a sleep schedule. To find out the rest, click here

If you have medical questions or feel like the stress you’re experiencing is unmanageable, please speak to your healthcare practitioner.

Source: Lee Holmes : Supercharged Food

1Hechtman, Leah (2021). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. 

2Bradbury, J., Myers, S. P., & Oliver, C. (2004). An adaptogenic role for omega-3 fatty acids in stress; a randomised placebo controlled double blind intervention study (pilot) [ISRCTN22569553]. Nutrition journal, 3, 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-3-20 

3Young, L. M., Pipingas, A., White, D. J., Gauci, S., & Scholey, A. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals. Nutrients, 11(9), 2232. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11092232

4Aubry, A.V., Khandaker, H., Ravenelle, R. et al. A diet enriched with curcumin promotes resilience to chronic social defeat stress. Neuropsychopharmacol 44, 733–742 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0295-2 

5Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/ 

6Christl, I., & Kretzschmar, R. (2001). Relating ion binding by fulvic and humic acids to chemical composition and molecular size. 1. Proton binding. Environmental science & technology, 35(12), 2505–2511. https://doi.org/10.1021/es0002518

7 Ai, Z., Cheng, A. F., Yu, Y. T., Yu, L. J., & Jin, W. (2014). Antidepressant-like behavioral, anatomical, and biochemical effects of petroleum ether extract from maca (Lepidium meyenii) in mice exposed to chronic unpredictable mild stress. Journal of medicinal food, 17(5), 535–542. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2013.2950 

8Wang, H. X., & Wang, Y. P. (2016). Gut Microbiota-brain Axis. Chinese medical journal, 129(19), 2373–2380. https://doi.org/10.4103/0366-6999.190667

9Breus, M. J., O’Connor, P. J. (1998) Exercise-induced anxiolysis: a test of the "time out" hypothesis in high anxious females. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 7 (30), 1107-1112.

10 Melville, G. W., Chang, D., Colagiuri, B., Marshall, P. W., & Cheema, B. S. (2012). Fifteen minutes of chair-based yoga postures or guided meditation performed in the office can elicit a relaxation response. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 501986. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/501986 

11Kim, E. J., & Dimsdale, J. E. (2007). The effect of psychosocial stress on sleep: a review of polysomnographic evidence. Behavioral sleep medicine, 5(4), 256–278. https://doi.org/10.1080/15402000701557383

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