We live in a hectic world, and sometimes our nerves become frayed as our minds start to race. Natural remedies like yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, and calming essential oils can help, but what you are eating may also work to quiet and ease the wondering mind.
In fact, a vegan, anti-inflammatory diet rich in specific vitamins and minerals may work to calm your nerves. To find out how nutrition plays its part in relieving stress, continue reading!
As important as diet and nutrition can be to the healing process, it should never be used in place of treatment.
1. Nutrition’s Role in Reducing Stress
When you consume healthy foods, you are nourishing not only your body but your mind. One way to specifically target stress is by consuming what is referred to as an “anti-inflammatory diet.” A diet that is anti-inflammatory replaces refined sugars and processed foods with whole, nutrient-dense foods. It also contains high amounts of antioxidants to combat free radicals looking to damage cells.
When you ingest inflammatory foods, the inflammatory response is activated and pro-inflammatory cytokines are released. Cytokines are small proteins that influence interactions between cells and can cause oxidative stress. When these pro-inflammatory proteins are released, they can impact your neurotransmitters, affecting motor skills and promoting stress. However, when you ingest antioxidant-rich anti-inflammatory foods, they can balance your mood by aiding in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. They can also repair damage caused by oxidative stress that could impair cognitive functioning.
A vegan diet is often considered anti-inflammatory because it excludes common inflammatories like dairy, copious amounts of saturated fats, and processed meats, and includes exorbitant amounts of nutrient-packed fruits, vegetables, and grains. On the other hand, the typical Western diet is rich in these inflammatory foods. These inflammatory, high-fat foods can cause complications in the brain that induce stress. This is because they affect intracellular signaling as well as gene expression.
To prevent the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that can cause stress, it is important to stop that release from ever occurring by eating fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
2. The Best Vitamins to Induce Relaxation
Zucchini, Pea, and Spinach Pesto Risotto/One Green Planet
Antioxidants can contribute wonderful things to the mind, but additionally, there are two specific nutrients that work magnificently at relieving stress. These nutrients are magnesium and B-complex vitamins.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that many Americans, roughly 68%, are deficient in. In order to produce energy, our bodies require magnesium because it is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions. Magnesium also plays a role in the brain and can affect the way we feel. This is because this mineral is responsible for the activity of the mind, nervous system, and endocrine systems. It is also capable of reducing stress hormones and stimulating gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for quieting a racing mind.
Plant-based foods that are high in magnesium and should be incorporated into your diet are:
- Swiss Chard
- Dark Chocolate
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Black Beans
- Dried Figs
You can also take a vegan magnesium supplement like VegLife Magnesium.
B-complex vitamins have been linked to neurological development and general mental functioning. They work to improve your mood, improve cognitive functioning, and increase long-term memory. Vitamin B6, in particular, is especially useful for relaxation because it helps the body produce specific neurotransmitters and also aids the body in making the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which both regulate moods. Vitamin B12 is also key because it plays a role in treating nerve and cognitive disorders. A deficiency in these vitamins can lead to mood problems, memory loss, and nerve tissue damage.
Plant-based foods high in B vitamins that should be incorporated into your diet are:
- Enriched Grains
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Nutritional Yeast
- Fortified Vegan Cereals
In addition to, you may also take a B-complex vitamin like Garden of Life Vitamin B-Complex.
3. How to Incorporate Stress-Relieving Foods into your Diet
Almond Lover’s Hummus/One Green Planet
Incorporating foods into your regular meal plan that are high in both magnesium and B-complex vitamins is super easy to do! To help get you started try these Almond Curry Lentils, Orange, Bean, and Beet Salad, Pumpkin and Kale Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Sausage, Roasted Pumpkin Za’atar Spinach Barley Bowl with Tahini Dressing, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter and Raspberry Chia Jam Cups, or this Avocado and Tofu Ricotta Sourdough Toast.
To ease stress further, check out 5 Plant-Based Foods to Calm Your Anxiety. We recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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