If you've ever turned to food when stressed, you're not alone. Although for many, delicious foods can bring joy to your taste buds, vitamins and nutrients exist in certain foods that can help you feel relaxed. These foods do more than just provide you with a tasty distraction; they work on a chemical level to help balance out your emotions.
Diet can play a role in how we feel, mood included, and there are certain nutrients, flavors, and even scents that can help relax us. "Foods can relax you by increasing serotonin and dopamine release and transmission," says Natalie Stephens, RD at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to Bustle over email. "Although most people don’t consider that while eating, memories associated with foods can be the connector, while some foods contain tryptophan, which increases serotonin."
Turning to unhealthy foods can actually make you feel worse, exacerbating anxiety and causing you to feel down, but if you opt for the right choice, certain foods can help your mind destress and your body relax. If you're feeling a little anxious and want to eat a meal to help you unwind, consider eating or drinking one of these seven foods, which can help make you feel relaxed.
1. Chamomile Tea
Sitting with a warm cup of tea not only sounds relaxing, but many studies have found that chamomile tea has anxiety-reducing effects. The herb is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it has traditionally been used as a mild sedative for its calming effects.
Berries contain a variety of antioxidants, including vitamin C, that can help reduce stress. Studies show that increasing your intake of vitamin C can help reduce physical and mental responses to stress, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, a fatty acid that can protect the heart during acute stress. A study from Journal of the American College of Nutrition also found that eating walnuts daily can help lower blood pressure response to stress.
Lavender is one of the most popular herbs for relaxation, and if you're not fond of the flavor, you can just go ahead and sniff it for a chance to reach zen. It can treat headaches, improve sleep quality, and even lift mood.
5. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds and other seeds such as pumpkin contain magnesium, which is also known as the "relaxation mineral". It can help combat stress, help you fall asleep, and even reduce muscle cramps.
6. Tart Cherry Juice
If you're looking to unwind before bed, tart cherry juice is for you. Cherries naturally contain melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycle, and tart cherry juice can help you fall asleep quicker and for longer.
These foods can help you relax, but they won't erase any major life troubles, so be sure to supplement your diet with these foods while still focusing on the real issues at hand — if there are any!
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