Stress is a toll on the body and its far reaching consequences are still little known. Stress directly affects all the bodily systems adversely and it is compounded by unhealthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthy food is an important step in helping your body reduce stress. Eating healthy food can also help with maintaining mental clarity, to help you make the best decisions. As an entrepreneur eating healthy is not always easy, but it is important, especially for busy days. Here are five health foods which will help your body counter the effects of stress.
If you want to transition into a healthier lifestyle and only wish to make one change then I recommend that change be a green smoothie. This is one of the best and fastest ways to reduce stress. A green smoothie is made out of fruit and leafy greens. As humans we need to include leafy greens in our diet on a regular basis as they provide us with the essential vitamins and minerals our body needs and does not produce.
Lettuce is one type of leafy green which is rich in dietary fiber. Yet when compared to other leafy greens it is not high in minerals and vitamins. A good rule of thumb is that the more dark and bitter the leaf is, the more nutritious it is. Spinach, chard, collards, kale, stinging nettles, dandelion, fresh herbs such as basil, mint, parsley and beet or carrot greens are all nutrient-dense.
Blending the leafy greens breaks down their cells making their nutrients easily available to the body ensuring that they are absorbed and assimilated by the body in no time.
The nutritious qualities in leafy greens make them bitter and thus blending them with fruit turns them into a delicious smoothie ingredient. Ripe bananas work really well but many other ripe fruit work well too. Pears, orange juice and strawberries, peaches, mango, papaya or persimmon. This is in no way exhaustive. It’s fun to experiment and try out different combinations. As to the ratio of fruit to leafy greens, I recommend starting off with 80% fruit and 20% leafy greens. Once you get used to the taste of chlorophyll your body will automatically ask for more leafy greens. You will need a blender or liquidizer for this.
Fermented vegetables have been through the process of lacto-fermentation whereby probiotics (natural bacteria) feed on the sugar and starch in the vegetable to create lactic acid. The end product of this process is that the vegetables become full of beneficial enzymes which help our guts to function at their best and help to keep the bacteria in the gut balanced, naturally reducing stress.
Fermented vegetables have also been shown to slow or reverse disease, help with nutrient absorption, immunity, depression, digestion and bowel movements. If you are purchasing fermented vegetables make sure they are raw and unpasteurized as pasteurization kills all their beneficial qualities. Alternatively you can make your own. All you’ll need is a jar, the vegetables, sea salt or Himalayan salt and water that is chlorine and fluoride-free as these chemicals kills off bacteria. Fermented vegetables can be an accompaniment to most meals, sandwich filler, eaten on their own or added to a salad.
Sprouts contain 100 times more enzymes than raw fruit and vegetables. An enzyme is a protein that works as a catalyst in all of the body’s functions. They help the body absorb vital minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids. They are also alkalizing to the body. All this makes them a very powerful ally in maintaining optimal health and reduce stress.
All types of sprouts are equally beneficial. The most common are mung beans, lentils, chick peas, peas, sunflower seeds, buckwheat, alfalfa, radish and almonds. They are readily available in most places or they can be easily grown at home. Sprouts work really well in most meals, added to salads, sandwiches, wraps or as a snack on their own.
Do not underestimate the power of your spice rack to reduce stress of busy days. Keep in mind that spices are in concentrated form and a little goes a long way. Ground turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and offers preventative support to a number of illnesses and diseases. Black pepper will increase its bio availability to the body. Try adding ¼ of a teaspoon of turmeric and an eighth of a teaspoon of black pepper to your next smoothie.
Ground ginger, a common ingredient in reducing stress, boosts the immune system and is very powerful with aiding digestion and gastro-intestinal relief. If you have poor digestion, add ginger to your meal. It works well in both sweet and savoury food. Cinnamon helps to lower blood sugar levels and it reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. Why not take a cup of cinnamon tea by infusing a cinnamon stick in hot water?
Alternatively add ground cinnamon to your breakfast porridge, fruit salad, in pancakes or muffins. It also goes well with savoury meals. Add a cinnamon stick to rice next time and enjoy the rich aroma it leaves behind. You could also sprinkle it on yoghurt or ice-cream.
Seasonal and local fruit and vegetables
All fruit and vegetables offer many health boosting qualities. By eating seasonal and local produce you are ensuring that over the span of a year you are including a wide range or food into your diet. This will ensure that over a year you will be getting the whole range of vitamins and minerals your body needs to reduce stress. If you want your food to become your medicine, keep in touch with the season and include as many different fruit and vegetables as you can handle.
The original article has been edited before publishing.