Most people often turn to food when they are feeling stressed. How often have you gone to town on a tub of ice cream after a horrible day or chowed down on a Big Mac after going through something tough? It is true that some foods out there tend to make us feel better during stressful times; however, certain foods actually increase stress. This blog will discuss six foods that cause stress and should be avoided if you want to lower your stress levels.
It is no mystery that salt is used to enhance the flavor of the food we eat. However, adding too much salt to your meals can increase sodium in the body, leading to retention of water, high blood pressure, and potential hypertension. This resultantly causes your mind to stress out more, as the heightened blood pressure causes stress on the brain.
It is advisable to consume less than 2,300mg of salt daily as it is important to keep sodium levels low. To ensure that the amount of sodium being consumed does not exceed the daily requirements, you must add less salt to your home-cooked meals.
More importantly, when you buy groceries, you must ensure that you buy food with low sodium content. It would be better to cook food yourself to avoid any excessive intake of salt.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is naturally released in response to stress. However, cortisol levels can increase sharply if you consume sugary foods such as soda, cake, soft drinks, cream, etc. The constant intake of these foods will increase your blood sugar levels and put additional stress on the body. Thus, the imbalance of sugar and excess cortisol release contribute to additional stress and the spiking of anxiety levels.
It is advisable for women to consume no more than 25 grams of sugar each day, whereas, for men, it is advisable to consume no more than 38 grams of sugar daily. It is important to understand which foods contain high amounts of sugar to avoid excess intake. Even some foods that may not taste sweet could have high sugar content, for instance, sauces, yogurts, salad dressing, etc.
3. Fried Foods
If you follow a diet rich in fried food items, such as fried chicken, fried potatoes, and the like, we have some bad news for you. Fried foods can lead to decreased activity levels and a low energy lifestyle. These stress-causing foods can cause people to feel constantly lazy and sluggish, which leads to an uncomfortable feeling, hence the stress.
Therefore, you should adapt to other forms of cooking and eating methods. For example, instead of consuming fried products, you could go for grilled, roasted, or sautéed food, healthy alternatives.
Most people often consume alcohol to relieve their stress at the end of a long hectic day. The thing about alcohol is that it makes us temporarily calm (like a mild sedative). However, if you increase its consumption and start to drink it every day, it can increase your stress and anxiety levels. Alcohol can reduce the levels of serotonin, a hormone responsible for your good mood, which can, in turn, increase stress.
You might be wondering what exactly defines moderate drinking. The answer is one drink per day for women and a maximum of 2 drinks per day for men. If you consume more than this amount, it will be too much for your body to handle (especially if you keep drinking without a break) and can cause excess alcohol to circulate through your bloodstream.
You can substantially reduce the amount of alcohol you consume by involving yourself in different activities and spending more time with your friends and family (without alcohol). You can even try to distract yourself by exercising or playing sports. If you really crave a drink, you can choose a non-alcoholic beverage.
5. Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar is bad on its own, but some products are not even sweetened using real sugar. Instead of real sugar, these products are full of artificial sweeteners, which are even worse for you. Artificial sweeteners can cause many health issues, such as headaches, cardiovascular disease, and even increased stress. Moreover, these sweeteners can even make us crave more sweets and unhealthy foods.
Many side effects associated with artificial sweeteners can lead to stress. Aspartame, for instance, is found in many products made with artificial sweeteners, and it elevates plasma cortisol levels, which then produce extra free radicals. This harms the stress levels as it increases substantially.
Thus, it is better to switch to natural sweeteners such as honey, a great alternative and rich in health benefits.
6. Processed Carbohydrates
Processed carbs certainly taste great, but they are not beneficial to the body. First of all, they have no real nutritional value and only contain useless calories. The level of carbs can fluctuate in the bloodstream, which can lead to additional stress and anxiety.
Plus, too many processed carbohydrates contain high amounts of sodium, increasing blood pressure and making you feel bloated. Unnecessary discomfort also leads to increased levels of stress.
The Bottom Line
When we feel stressed, our body response is usually put into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This leads to different psychological conditions, especially if you experience stress regularly. You can substantially decrease the amount of stress by avoiding the above-mentioned foods that cause stress and reduce the chances of other potential diseases, too.