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6 expert tips to beat stress with food

Stressed out? Here are some foods that can help undo the damage.

Stress is quite commonplace these days, and it can have a number of adverse effects on your body. But if you understand, the way your body works and deals with stress, it can help manage stress more efficiently. We spoke to Charu Bhradwaj, metabolic balance coach and nutritionist, Aktivortho, about dealing with stress to healthy eating. Here are her suggestions on eating right to stay stress-free.

How stress affects your body

After a stressful period, the human body goes into recovery mode. Marked by increased hunger and food cravings, there is a marked drop in your metabolic rate to conserve energy. So, if you regulate this process by eating right, it can help your body recover from a stressful event rapidly and with minimal ill effects, especially weight gain.

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Eat well throughout the day

Make sure you eat at least three portions of fruit and vegetables every day, especially foods that have Vitamins B, C and magnesium.

  • Vitamin B: Helps you feel less stressed and more energetic. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and also meat, fish and dairy products contain essential B vitamins.
  • Vitamin C: Your adrenal glands store vitamin C in large quantities (adrenal glands it plays an important role in the production of stress hormones) and vitamin C works as antioxidant which reducing the damage due to stress. Therefore, eating citrus fruit such as oranges, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi fruit, leafy green vegetables, broccoli and other foods rich in Vitamin C can help combat stress.
  • Magnesium: Can help relax muscles and reduce anxiety. Increasing the amount of magnesium-rich foods you eat like nuts -- hazelnuts and peanuts -- help beat that deficit caused due to stress. Green leafy vegetables, whole grains (especially oats), brown rice and beans are also good sources of magnesium too.

Include complex carbs into your diet

Eating carbs stimulates your brain to make more serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it's best to eat complex carbs, which take longer to digest. Good choices include whole-grain bread, barley, whole grain pasta and breakfast cereals, including oatmeal. Complex carbs can also help stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Load up on Omega- 3

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, can prevent surges in stress hormones and protect you from suffering from heart disease and depression. For a steady supply of feel-good omega-3, include fatty fish, flax seeds and oils (flaxseed, canola, mustard or soybean) in your diet.

Gorge on nuts

Nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats. Eating a handful of pistachios, walnuts or almonds regularly helps lower your cholesterol levels, control inflammation in your arteries, beat diabetes and protects you against the ill effects of stress. But don't overdo it as nuts are rich in calories as well. Another nut that is perfect to beat the effects of stress is almonds as it is full of vitamin E, which helps boost your immune system and helps cope with bouts of stress. Here's a list of the healthiest nuts you should eat.

Stay hydrated

Stress can lead to dehydration, and dehydration can cause stress -- it s a vicious cycle. You can break it by consuming more water. Staying hydrated helps keep your cortisol (a stress hormone) levels low. Here's why drinking water is essential for your health. Here's why drinking water is essential for your health.

Exercise regularly

Besides altering your diet, one of the best stress-busting strategies is to start exercising. Exercise boosts oxygen circulation and spurs your body to make feel-good chemicals called endorphins. You may also like to read about the health benefits of exercise.

But apart from eating healthy, there are a few things you should avoid.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a common substance found in coffee, tea, some soft drinks and chocolates. Caffeine tends to push your body into overdrive and can also keep you awake at night. Not only does it dehydrate you, but it also interferes with your sleep cycles that in turn can increase your stress levels. Therefore, it is a good idea to ditch caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee and opt for healthier options like green tea.

Alcohol, sugar, salt and nicotine

It's best to reduce your intake of alcohol, sugar, salt and nicotine. Consumption of these substances decreases essential nutrients in your body and reverses the benefits of a healthy diet. Here are the 25 things that happen in your body when you smoke. Here are the 25 things that happen in your body when you smoke.

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