Manage stress by eating well

A healthy diet has a positive effect on physical and mental well being.

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Claire Moore '22

Research shows food has an impact on mental health, according to my.clevelandclinic.org.

Research shows that a healthy and balanced diet is crucial in order to maintain physical health.  However, food also has a significant effect on mental health.  Practicing good eating habits can increase energy and alertness, help form a positive relationship with food, and improve health and body image, according to my.clevelandclinic.org.  Eating well is especially important for students because nutrient-dense foods will decrease stress and anxiety levels, according to success.com.

Stress is the feeling of emotional strain that originates from events or thoughts that cause feelings of anger, frustration, or fear, according to medlineplus.gov.  Short-term stress has some positive effects, such as fighting procrastination, but chronic stress has serious negative effects on mental well-being. 

The prepared cuisine section of Whole Foods contains many meals that include omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B, and magnesium in forms of fish, chickpeas, and tofu.  Claire Moore ’22

Those who eat unhealthy foods, such as candy, high-calorie coffee, or pizza, have twice as much stress as healthy eaters.  Eating foods like nuts, green vegetables, and antioxidants can positively impact mental health, according to my.clevelandclinic.org.

Anxiety is a normal part of life, but excessive amounts of it have destructive effects on mental health.  Disorders like social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and panic attacks are an example of anxiety’s negative effects, according to healthline.com

There are several foods and drinks that are known to effectively fight stress and ease anxiety, according to everydayhealth.com.  A mug of herbal tea will lower stress by causing feelings of warmth and calmness, according to eatthis.com.  On the contrary, a large iced coffee in the morning absorbs key mood-balancing nutrients, such as Vitamin D and Vitamin B, whose purposes are to lower anxiety levels, improve moods, and increase energy levels. 

Grocery stores stock their shelves with pre-packaged healthy choices.  Claire Moore ’22

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and avocados, reduce stress-related inflammation.  Linked to depression and mood swings are deficiencies in these acids.  Citrus fruits, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and red peppers contain Vitamin C, a vitamin commonly known to strengthen the immune system.  Eating these foods can help maintain health and prevents stress-related school absences, according to success.com. 

High-fiber foods like spinach, tofu, almonds, and kale, incorporate magnesium, a mineral that produces calming neurotransmitters, and relaxes muscles.  These effects can be very beneficial for student-athletes, according to everydayhealth.com.

It is important that students who participate in rigorous academics and athletics maintain their mental and physical well-being.  Foods that are high in protein, such as eggs, quinoa, and chickpeas build and rebuild muscles, according to webmd.com.  The body also uses high protein foods to create hormones and enzymes. 

Research shows that dark chocolate, blueberries, and water improve mental focus, clarity, and alertness, according to alifeofproductivity.com.  Dark chocolate heightens focus because of the small amount of caffeine it contains, which enhances mental alertness.  The antioxidants in blueberries help improve concentration by stimulating the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.  Finally, water provides energy that helps the brain execute thought and memory processes, according to waterbenefitshealth.com

Apples are a great source of Vitamin C, according to healthline.com.  Claire Moore ’22

It is crucial to moderate foods with highly refined sugar, like ice cream or candy, as they increase stress hormones.  Additionally, a low intake of high-sodium foods is beneficial because foods like pizza, pretzels, and cottage cheese will intensify the body’s stress response and may result in high blood pressure, according to eatthis.com.  

Overall, research shows that stress management is a critical part of living a healthy and fulfilled life, according to everydayhealth.com.  Students are especially vulnerable to extreme levels of anxiety, so it is essential that they learn to decrease nervousness as much as possible, and a conscious, balanced diet is proven to help this process.

Featured Image by Claire Moore ’22