The modern world is filled with stress activators, whether it’s deadlines piling up at work, traffic jams during the school run, your mother-in-law staying for the weekend, or relationship problems. Unfortunately, stress has become “normal” and is a part of most people’s everyday lives.
Since everybody gets a little stressed from time to time, we tend to brush it off like it’s just a part of life. But staying stressed for long periods can have real, tangible health consequences. Therefore, it’s important to get stress levels under control.
While external stressors such as jobs and relationships can cause individuals to feel stressed out, certain foods we eat may also increase the risk of stress. Yes, that’s right – what you eat could be causing you stress, and could even be detrimental to your mental health.
Here are five foods that you should avoid to minimize stress, especially if you’re going through a stressful time in your life right now.
1. Sugar and Sweeteners
Sugar is one of the biggest instigators of all when it comes to stress. Whenever your body is experiencing stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol. Consuming refined sugars can cause cortisol levels to spike.
Continuous and excess intake of high-sugar foods will also result in unstable blood sugar levels. When a person’s blood sugar suddenly becomes high, an excess amount of cortisol is released – allowing cells to use sugar for energy. Consequently, blood sugar levels drop, sometimes to a lower level than prior to eating.
This imbalance in blood sugar level can lead to sleep problems, decreased immune response, headaches, unhealthy food cravings, and, ultimately, stress.
Processed sugar is not the only one to blame; artificial sweeteners are also bad for you. ‘Sugar-free’ products are often packed with “fake sugar” substitutes, and they can cause migraines and mood disorders. They also have a similar effect on your blood sugar. Instead of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, try out natural sugar alternatives such as stevia.
Here are a few foods to avoid if you want to minimize your refined sugar intake:
- Sweets and pastries
- Flavored yogurt
We bet you knew this one would appear on the list. It does seem a bit contradictory, though, because many of us like to have a drink after a hard day at work to help us relax. At first glance, it seems that alcohol is a stress-buster rather than something that leads to stress. On the contrary, however, alcohol increases the production of stress-causing hormones.
These hormones can leave you feeling more stressed and anxious, especially when your body starts to process the alcohol. Moreover, many alcoholic drinks are packed with sugar, which, as we now know, is detrimental to your health. And if you think you can just sleep off that stress, you’d be wrong. While you might fall asleep quickly after a glass of wine or two, alcohol often prevents you from getting the “healthy sleep” your body needs.
Once again, this probably seems conflicting. Many of us thrive on a cup of coffee (or two or three) to get us through the day at work. It makes us more productive and wakeful, and some people just can’t function without a steaming cup of joe in the morning.
Don’t get us wrong; you don’t have to completely quit caffeine to feel less stressed. However, if you’re the type of person who drinks several cups of coffee a day, then you may need to cut back a bit. Caffeine can overstimulate the body’s adrenal glands, raising blood pressure and increasing heart rate to unhealthy levels. Remember, though, caffeine is not just found in coffee. To cut back on caffeine, try avoiding:
- Energy drinks
- Most sodas
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
4. White Flour and Processed Carbs
Although the refined carbohydrates in white bread taste better than the type of carbs found in whole-grain bread, they are not at all good for you – or your stress levels. White flour can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, which may cause erratic mood swings.
Additionally, white flour is known to cause inflammation, which can put a strain on the body’s digestive system. Naturally, this leads to unnecessary stress. Try and opt for whole wheat products instead, and avoid things like pastries, white bread, and enriched flour.
Sodium is pretty hard to avoid in your diet (and is indeed vital for life as we know it), so cutting it out completely is near impossible. However, like caffeine, sodium tends to be a key contributor to stress when consumed in high quantities. This is because sodium increases blood pressure and can lead to hypertension.
High blood pressure can negatively impact the body’s stress response, which is why we recommend reducing sodium intake if you’re trying to reduce stress levels.
How to Manage Stress Naturally
The question on your mind now is probably what foods can you eat. The truth is, you can eat anything you want to – just make sure you do it in moderation. If you suffer from chronic stress, though, consider cutting out the above-mentioned foods for a while and see whether it has any impact on your stress levels.
Also, try consuming foods that are high in B-complex vitamins. These include foods like almonds, oranges, oatmeal, and avocado. Other vitamins and nutrients to look for include magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. These are all nutrients that may help your body fight off stress, and can be found in certain foods as well as food supplements.
Alternatively, you can go the route of CBD supplements. Here at PureKana, we sell a wide range of CBD products including oils, capsules, gummies, vape pens, and more.
As reported in one 2011 study, CBD may have the ability to lower stress levels. As a result, many people have started to turn to the compound to manage stress and improve their general well-being.
CBD can easily be incorporated into anyone’s daily wellness routine. Made from hemp – which is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients – our Natural CBD Oil contains no additives or artificial sweeteners, making it a great stress-buster.
If you’ve been feeling stressed out lately and are in search of some much-needed relief, we recommend avoiding the foods mentioned in our list above – or at least cut down on them. The world is stressful enough without the added aggravation caused by an unhealthy diet.