When I’m stressed, I look to food for comfort. Other than triggering a soothing response and making me feel good inside, there’s a good case for it. Research has been telling us for years that stress impacts the gut. Prolonged stress can actually alter the makeup of our digestive system. We also know that what we put in our gut can have a significant impact on our stress levels; it can be our demise, or it can be the reason we thrive. In times of great uncertainty, through this major health crisis and the never-ending ramifications, it’s understandable that our stress may be at an all-time high. Thankfully, we are what we eat, and there some special foods that counteract and complement our resilience to external stressors.

 

1. Maca Root Powder

Maca is magical. It makes hot cups of cacao creamy and sends anyone to the most beautiful, gentle sleep. This adaptogen is a stress-healer. It prevents increases in cortisol, adrenal size, and feelings of fatigue. Maca is a root, carrying the nutrients of the soil from the Peruvian Andes, but is commonly enjoyed in its powder form. It is actually a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and cauliflower, and packs a beautiful earthy taste. We love it in this Chocolate Nut Milk, or in a slab of Raw Maca Chocolate.

2. Cashew Nuts

This much-loved nut is a nutrient powerhouse, so it should be no surprise that its stress-reducing properties are one of the reasons we should be snacking on cashews. They are a great source of magnesium, which plays an amazing role in stabilizing energy alongside regulating our nervous system. The essential amino acids they contain help to rebuild parts of our bodies damaged by stress responses. Cashews are so incredibly versatile too; sweet or savory, there’s a cashew recipe for everyone.

3. Alkalizing Greens

Alkalizing your body has as much of a physiological impact on stress levels as it does mentally. Eating a diet rich in different types of alkalizing greens has been noted for cleansing properties, where we are able to eliminate stress-causing toxins from the gastrointestinal tract. These greens help to harmonize the gut, which has an intrinsic connection to the environment of our brain. By alkalizing our bodies, we are also helping to deliver oxygen to all of our cells - and we all know that a deep breath is calming in times of stress, our cells happen to think the same. These Superfood Greens & Matcha Bliss Balls are a great way to get sustenance and do maintenance on your insides.

4. Comforting Foods

Although the relationship between comfort foods and stress can be a risky one, it’s important to consider the positive impacts of a nourishing bowl of good food. Healthy options like oatmeal, homemade curries, and seasonal soups have a profound impact on stress - the soothing sensation, both physically and emotionally, triggers serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is our calming, happy brain chemical, that fights away unwelcome stress. In days like these, there’s no better time to nourish your soul.

5. Healthy Fats & Omega 3’s

We’ve all heard how vital a good Omega 3 balance is for brain function, and healthy fatty foods can help to prevent a surge of stress hormones throughout the body when overwhelm arises. Fatty, sustainably sourced fish is one of the best ways to get the benefits of this response, but a flaxseed oil salad dressing is a wonderful plant-based alternative.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is heaven-sent. The immune-supporting, water-soluble vitamin is readily available in all of our much-loved citrus fruits, and alongside supporting our physiological wellbeing, it supports our body through stressful times. A strong immune system is so important for when illness comes along, and like Omega 3, the vitamin can also help to prevent a surge of stress hormones. We love getting our Vitamin C straight from camu camu. 

7. Raw Vegetables

Biting into a fresh, crunchy carrot often feels like a little massage for your facial muscles - and as it turns out, this massage is good for leveling out our stresses! In a mechanical aspect, this crunching and chewing motion, known as mastication, helps to release tension in the jaw, which triggers a release of stored stress. It’s about giving ourselves a total-body destress, and if we can enjoy some fresh foods and good hummus while doing it, who’s complaining? 

8. Homecooked Foods & Flavors You Enjoy

For me, there’s nothing more de-stressing then taking over the kitchen with a nourishing and creative recipe that requires your complete, undivided attention. It’s almost like a meditation practice, where your divine presence removes your mind from everything going on outside the room. Life is too short to weigh ourselves down eating foods and flavors that leave us with a bad taste, so cook up a big, healthy pot of your favorite foods, and unwind from it all.

What foods do you turn to when you feel stressed? Which ones from the list are you going to try?