Certain foods can boost serotonin levels or reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels. Dark chocolate for example can lower stress hormones and the caffeine and theobromine in it are natural mood and energy boosters. Knowing which foods have an effect on body chemicals and hormones can go a long way towards how to improve energy levels.
How To Improve Energy and Reduce Stress with Foods
To choose the best food for stress relief, you have to first know which vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals will help you get out of stress. Here's a short list of stress-relieving vitamins and minerals:
- B vitamins, especially B-12
- coenzyme Q10
There's a bit of a Catch-22 when looking at how to improve energy and deal with stress when it comes to these vitamins and minerals. They help relieve stress, but your body also uses them up much more quickly when you are stressed. So just when you are stressed and need them the most, you are not getting enough of them and using them up faster than you can produce them. Natural solution – increase your intake of them. Here are some other foods to include in your diet when you are dealing with stress and/or looking for how to improve energy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can help stabilize stress hormones and are helpful in improving mood. Fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, cod and herring are a good source for adding omega-3 to your diet. These cold-water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids because they, in turn, eat a lot of blue-green algae. You can also get your omega-3s straight from taking bluegreen algae supplements, from dark green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, and flax and olive oils. Bluegreen algae also has chlorophyll and magnesium to help fight off stress.
Carbohydrates influence the brain's production of serotonin. Complex carbs are the healthiest type of carbs to eat. They are slower to digest which leaves you feeling fuller longer and less prone to unhealthy snacking and they help stabilize blood sugar levels. Whole grain cereals and breads, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, barley and other whole grains and beans are all good sources of complex carbs.
Vitamin C has been found to reduce stress hormone levels and B vitamins, especially B-12, help us relax and soothes our nerves. Vitamin C can be found in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oranges, kiwi, guava, papaya and strawberries. Food sources of B-12 include clams, oysters, beef liver, fatty fish, crab, shrimp, dairy foods and fortified cereals. The friendly bacteria called probiotics found in your gut, produce the B vitamins in our bodies. Getting extra probiotics in your diet through foods such as yogurt and kefir or through probiotic supplements gives your body the ability to keep producing B vitamins, especially when you are stressed.
How To Improve Energy and Reduce Stress with Supplements
Since bluegreen algae has so many of the nutrients that help support stress reduction, here are a couple of supplements that not only have bluegreen algae in them, but other stress fighting ingredients too. The first one I like has a combination of phycocyanin (the unique blue pigment from bluegreen algae), Ecklonia cava (Seanol®, a marine algae), standardized turmeric, bromelain, and bluegreen algae. Ecklonia cava and turmeric both give super antioxidant power to help in protecting cell damage. Turmeric has been used for ages in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine in a variety of health remedies. Turmeric in particular has been shown to help with stress related depression. Bromelain is an enzyme that occurs naturally in pineapple. Enzymes make it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients it needs to function properly and help your body break down foods more quickly and efficiently, so your body doesn't have to work quite as hard to process your food. When you are feeling burned out or stressed, it is especially helpful to help your body save energy. With all this antioxidant protection, this supplement can also support the body as it deals with inflammation which can result from stress weakening the immune system.
Second is a supplement that combines the power of three mushrooms, Lion's Mane, agarikon, and cordyceps, along with standardized American ginseng (Cereboost®), resveratrol, and bluegreen algae. This supplement was designed to support body-mind health, regeneration and mental clarity. Cereboost®, Standardized American Ginseng, has long been used in improving cognitive function, preventing fatigue and increasing energy. Resveratrol is a polyphenol with antioxidant properties such as found in the skin of red grapes, some berries and peanuts. Lion's Mane is a mushroom that has been called "nature's nutrient for the neurons" due to NGF (nerve growth factor) found in it. Agarikon is a tree-based conk mushroom that has been found useful in helping with inflammation, oxidative stress and cellular support. Cordyceps mushrooms are rich in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and nucleoside derivatives. This combination helps support the body to fight stress and the damages it can cause.
St. John's Wort is a plant based herbal supplement that has been used for many years in alternative medicine for a mood boost. It is thought that this herb has the ability to stop reabsorption of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin by the brain's nerve cells which has made it useful in treating mild and moderate depression. There are some medications that do not react well with St. John's Wort, so be sure you consult your healthcare provider before using it.
You don't have to keep feeling low energy, burned out or stressed out. Eat your way to stress reduction and improved energy. How to improve your energy and reduce stress is as simple as knowing the right foods and supplements to consume to support your body in performing at its best.
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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net