5 Foods That Might Be Causing You Stress
In this day and age, there are simply too many things that can cause us stress. It’s all too common to suffer from recurring stress, and this can be due to anything; deadlines piling up at work, traffic jams during the school run, your mother-in-law staying for the weekend… It all just becomes too much!
Sadly, we seem to think of stress as quite normal. Since everybody gets a little stressed, we brush it off like it’s just a part of life. But staying stressed for a long time can actually have long-term health consequences. Chronic stress – that is, stress that lasts persistently for a long time – can cause problems such as weight gain or weight loss, as well as feelings of lethargy.
In fact, chronic stress is a leading cause of adrenal fatigue – a condition in which the adrenal glands cannot keep up with the demands of external stressors, and which can lead to symptoms including depression, inflammation, and difficulty in concentrating.
Clearly, it is important to avoid stress as much as possible. While it is not really realistic to cut out all your deadlines and work and get rid of all those external stressors you experience daily, there are some things you can do to reduce stress in your life.
Did you know that certain foods elevate the risk of stress? Yep, that’s right – what you eat could be damaging your mental health. Scary, right? Let’s take a look at the top 5 foods you should be avoiding to decrease 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 criminals when it comes to stress. Whenever your body is experiencing stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol, which helps us to manage both stress and sugar levels. Cortisol is what balances out our blood sugar whenever we consume sugary foods, as our blood sugar level spikes afterward.
However, increased levels of cortisol can also lead to sleep problems, decreased immune response, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. What’s more, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels can mimic the symptoms of stress, bringing on feelings of anxiety and fear.
But processed sugar is not the only one to blame; artificial sweeteners are also bad for you. ‘Sugar-free’ products are often full to the brim with these fake sugar substitutes, and they can cause migraines, mood disorders, and manic episode. They also have a similar effect on your blood sugar. Instead of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, try out natural sugar alternatives such as Stevia.
In order to skip out on the sugar, avoid foods like:
- 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.
To the contrary, however, alcohol actually increases the production of stress-causing hormones. These hormones can leave you feeling more stressed and anxious, especially when your body actually starts to process the alcohol.
What’s more, many alcoholic drinks are packed full of sugar, which as we know is detrimental to your health (see above). 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. So when you wake up feeling cranky, you’re likely to feel even more stressed!
Once again, this 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 to drink several cups of coffee a day, then you may need to cut back a bit. Caffeine can overstimulate the adrenal glands, raise your blood pressure and your heart rate, and generally lead to a feeling of anxiety. In other words, it can make you stressed.
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
Now this one may come as a shock to you. Refined carbohydrates may taste better than brown bread, but they are not at all good for you — or your stress levels. White flour can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels, which may give you mood swings that leave you feeling moody and down in the dumps.
White flour is also inflammatory, and the inflammation it causes can put a strain on our digestive system. This, obviously, 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 you would struggle to cut it out completely. However, like caffeine, sodium tends to be a bad offender for stress when consumed in high quantities.
This is because sodium increases blood pressure and can lead to hypertension. High blood pressure can worsen the body’s stress response, which is why it can be something to avoid when it comes to lowering stress levels. If you want to avoid high-sodium foods, consider cutting out things like:
- Chinese take-out
- Processed foods
Stressed? Here’s What to Do…
After reading all this, you may be wondering: ‘Well what the hell can I eat?’. The truth is that you can eat anything you want to, you just have to make sure you do it in moderation. If you suffer from chronic stress though, consider cutting out the aforementioned foods just for a little while to see if it calms you down.
Also, try consuming foods high in B-complex vitamins. These include things like almonds, oranges, oatmeal, and avocado. Other vitamins and nutrients to look out for include magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. These are all nutrients that may help your body to fight off stress, and can be found in certain foods as well as food supplements.
And if you’re looking for another stress buster, you can always try out a cannabidiol (CBD) supplement. Research has suggested that CBD may be able to lower stress levels, which is why many people are turning to it to lower their stress levels and their general well-being. It can easily be fitted into your lifestyle by taking a sublingual CBD tincture each day.
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. Just like many other food supplements, it is organic and easy to take.
Generally, if you want to decrease your stress levels, you should avoid the foods we have mentioned in this article – or at least cut down on them. Furthermore, you can turn to organic whole foods that are not processed, and even try out a food supplement like CBD oil. Trust us, you’ll be feeling less stressed in no time!