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This Diet Can Make You Happier and Stress Free

Stress does not only affect facial expressions, but also health. Whatever the reason, don't ignore the stress you experience. Short-term stress can lead to headaches, stomach cramps, and cause colds and flu, while chronic stress can affect the digestive system, reproduction, and immunity. If stress is not handled properly, the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety can increase. There are various ways to deal with stress and make you feel happier, one of which is to try this diet!

In a report by The United States of Stress 2018 made by Everyday Health, of 6,700 survey respondents, 35 percent claimed the scale of stress reached 6 or 7 (7 is the maximum scale) in the past month. Not only that, the way they deal with stress is also asked. Among various ways, 22 percent reported "escape" to food. Although this survey was conducted in the United States (US), but most likely that happened in big cities - not much different.

In fact, the stress that they experience will be even more severe by finding an escape through food. This is because food choices can relieve stress, or otherwise, making it worse.

Food is often an "escape" to deal with stress

Everyone has their own way of dealing with pressure or stress experienced. Not infrequently, someone will choose to consume large amounts of favorite foods when facing difficult situations.

In medicine, this condition is known as emotional eating.

Not only that, there is also a tendency to choose certain foods when someone is stressed. When someone is experiencing physical or emotional stress, he tends to eat foods that are rich in fat, sugar, or both. This is caused by an increase in cortisol and insulin levels.

So, filling your shopping basket with chips and cookies won't help you. In fact, foods sourced from refined carbohydrates will make blood sugar soar and then go back down quickly, increasing stress and anxiety. However, if what is consumed is healthy food, the impact can be the opposite.

Ali Miller, RD, CDE, an integrative dietitian and author of "The Anti-Anxiety Diet", said healthy foods that contain good fats such as avocados, eggs, and walnuts can create beneficial hormone signals in the brain, which support satiety, mood regulation, and sleep and energy balance.

Source from Harvard Health Publishing, when under stress, the body pumps the hormones cortisol, insulin, and grelin. All three can increase appetite and desire to eat comfort food which is generally unhealthy. Meanwhile, stress can also cause loss of muscle mass, decrease in body metabolism and increase body weight. That's just a small example. Though there are many other aspects in life that can be influenced by stress.

Before you experience this condition, prevent and reduce stress by applying this diet!

Stress management through food

There are various ways to deal with stress and make your life happier. Instead of giving up and following your appetite by eating a box of sweet foods, or bags of potato chips, as a precautionary measure before stress occurs, present these various foods and drinks in your diet.

1. Hot tea

According to a study published in the "Journal of Psychoparmacology", chamomile tea is reported to reduce anxiety. The effect of this tea can improve the body's response and increase happy hormones: dopamine and serotonin.

Besides chamomile tea, white tea can also be used. The level of white tea caffeine is relatively low, so many viewers report that they feel more calm and relaxed after drinking it.

The amino acid content of L-theanine in white tea has a calming function. Not only that, the low caffeine also makes this tea can be enjoyed at bedtime.

2. Water

When you're stressed, the simplest thing you can do is drink water. Stress is associated with a decrease in serotonin levels. This hormone is formed with the help of tryptophan amino acids in the brain.

In the process, sufficient amount of water is needed to ensure that tryptophan transport through the blood-brain barrier runs well. So, if you drink less, this process is disrupted.

On the other hand, stress can also cause fluid deficiency or dehydration.

When stressed, the adrenal glands in the body produce more cortisol hormones. If stress is prolonged, the adrenal gland also produces another hormone, namely aldosterone, which acts to regulate fluid and electrolyte levels in the body.

When hormone production from the adrenal gland becomes insufficient, aldosterone production also decreases. Finally, this causes you to lack fluids and decrease electrolytes. Therefore, drink at least two liters of water, or about eight glasses a day.

3. Eat chocolate

Usually sweet foods are not recommended when you are stressed, but dark chocolate is an exception. Based on a study in Switzerland published in "Journal of Proteome Research" in 2009, dark chocolate can help reduce stress levels.

In addition, another study published in "European Heart Journal" in 2010 found that consumption of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure.

The antioxidant content of polyphenols has many health benefits, one of which is reducing stress. Experts recommend dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa content, but remember, don't overeat.

4. Banana

Instead of taking a large piece of blueberry cheese cake, it's better to switch to banana. This fruit rich in potassium contains mood booster dopamine, as well as magnesium micronutrients, the amount of which decreases when you are stressed.

A preliminary study published in the journal "Neuropharmacology" also found that magnesium deficiency caused increased depression and anxiety symptoms in mice. Furthermore, according to a 2010 study in the journal "Psychopharmacology", bananas are rich in vitamin B6, which helps the nervous system work and reduces stress and fatigue.

5. Fatty fish

Stress is not good for heart health. Well, to strengthen the heart while boosting the mood, consume omega-3 fatty acids that are owned by fish such as tuna, halibut, sardines, and salmon. These are all reviewed in the "Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health".

6. Nuts

Many good things are offered by nuts. First, this food is filling. Eating peanuts can counteract the unhealthy appetite. Secondly, based on a 2012 study in the journal "Hypertension" nuts (with a focus on pistachios) can also help lower blood pressure.

Not only that, nutritionist Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, from the US said that B vitamins in nuts proved to reduce a person's stress level. Snacking nuts is good, but remember, the portions are not more than a handful.

7. Milk

From childhood maybe parents have accustomed you to diligently getting milk. In fact, milk is not only good for bone strength, but also can improve mood.

According to a 2012 study in the journal "Nutrition Research and Practice", Korean women with calcium intake at least reported feeling depressed. Milk and processed products containing calcium and vitamin D can help muscles relax and stabilize the mood.

Not only that, based on a 2017 study in the medical journal "Obstetrics & Gynecology Science" shows that calcium and vitamin D can relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can make women easily stressed.

8. Foods that are rich in vitamin C

A randomized study published in the journal "Psychopharmacology" found that when a person consumes 3,000 mg of vitamin C every day, the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones decrease. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin C such as oranges or strawberries can be a good start. If you are not sure about your intake of vitamin C, consider supplemental supplements in consultation with your doctor.

9. Green leafy vegetables

For most people, salads may look (and feel) tasteless and boring. However, to relieve stress, a bowl of green vegetables can be the best choice. Green leafy vegetables - like spinach and kale - as well as other fresh fruits and vegetables, are powerful stress relievers. This is stated in a 2018 study in the journal "Frontiers in Psychology".

As a source of high magnesium, green leafy vegetables can also help regulate cortisol levels and blood pressure. Plus, this type of vegetable also contains folate which plays an important role in the production of dopamine compounds.

10. Avocado

Avocados are equipped with healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins C, B6, potassium, and fiber. The content makes avocados a snack that can relieve stress. Based on research in 2017 in "The FASEB Journal", avocado fat and fiber can maintain a feeling of fullness longer, thus preventing you from the tendency for unhealthy snacking due to stress.

If while reading this article you are under stress, as much as possible limit or avoid consuming caffeine, alcoholic beverages, and foods made with refined sugar (candy, cake, or cookies) so that stress doesn't get worse.

The ability to manage stress is good for everyone. In addition to pampering yourself with me-time, you can get rid of stress by doing hobbies, or meditation. Also, combine it with a healthy diet and exercise regularly. If that's all done, surely the quality of life will be better, and you can be a happy person.

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