Stress is more dangerous than you think. Its effect on your life may seem like a temporary inconvenience, but the long term impact for those who suffer from stress in their daily lives can be severe and irreversible.
Consequences range from rapid aging and heart problems, to depression and serious mental health issues. But there is something you can do. Read on for the Superfood World list of the best superfoods to combat stress.
The most famous superfood known for reducing stress and promoting mental wellbeing is Ashwagandha. This adaptogenic herb contains various health properties that help you manage stress and anxiety. As an adaptogenic herb, it helps the body fight against stress and fatigue by harmonising the body’s overall balance and helping it adapt to different stressors.
What this means is that production of cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands when the body is faced with certain activities, is moderated. Effectively, Ashwagandha does not remove stress, but simply enables us to cope with it better.
Ashwagandha could also be used to help improve general quality of life. According to one study carried out on 64 subjects with a history of chronic stress, those who consumed Ashwagandha root extract over a 60 day period exhibited a significant reduction of stress on all the stress-assessment scales, compared to those who didn’t.
Too much cortisol
Cortisol, the hormone that Ashwagandha is so effective at combating is actually essential to a well-functioning body, enabling it to regulate the metabolism and assist in brain function. However, when adverse levels of cortisol are released, overloading the body, this can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression and in some severe cases chronic fatigue syndrome.
Going beyond mental wellbeing, unchecked stress will also impact physical health, potentially leading to other health concerns such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Maca is great for reducing stress in much the same way Ashwagandha is. As an adaptogenic superfood, it is a natural substance that gives the body the ability to cope with various stressors that come its way.
Specifically, Maca supports the adrenal glands and thyroid which is where stress hormones are produced. With effective management of these, Maca is able to balance the amount in the body to enable us to function more effectively.
According to one study targeting a controlled group of menopausal women, Maca also directly reduces depression and blood pressure. The study reports that women were left feeling calmer and more in control.
Turmeric Curcumin has been consumed for thousands of years and become famed for its ability to improve digestion, strengthen the body and relieve pain and swelling.
In a 2006 study, the effect of Turmeric Curcumin on rats demonstrated antidepressant-like effects. Curcumin was also linked with a reduction in sleep deprivation according to one study, and is regarded by many as an effective calming ingredient.
A study by the UCLA Brain Injury Research Centre found that the curcumin in turmeric enhances the synthesis of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which many believe helps to protect against cognitive disorders such as anxiety.
As omega-3 is less common in certain Western cuisines, Turmeric is a welcome supplement to a diet lacking in fatty fish like fresh sardines, trout or mackerel.
Simply good for you
Obviously the path to a stress-free life involves more than just your diet, but you’d be surprised how small changes to your lifestyle and diet can go a long way.
Even if it’s simply having a helpful superfood supplement such as Ashwagandha or Maca you can factor into your routine, it’s a great alternative to other de-stressors such as smoking or alcohol that will do more damage than good.