From Distress to De-Stress

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By Maya Daaboul

What can you eat if you’re feeling down?

When stress gets the better of you, the body tends to crave high calorie, sugary foods that only act as a quick fix, tricking you into feeling better. In reality, these foods subject your body to additional load of stress, only providing you with an initial short burst of energy followed by a prolonged period of fatigue.

The trick to combatting stress is to reach out for healthy foods that are jam-packed with essential nutrients to keep you calm and collected and prepare your body for any upcoming periods of stress. Here are a few stress-busters to stock up on.


This comfort food is slowly digested in the body promoting the flow of the calm-inducing, feel-good chemical serotonin. Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal and top it up with some blueberries- also known to be mighty stress-busters, and some honey for a sweet twist.

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Spinach is rich in magnesium which helps lower the stress hormone cortisol, lowers our blood pressure and relaxes our muscles. Add spinach to your salads and sandwiches or have it as a side dish with your main meal to best reap its benefits.

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Fatty Fish (Salmon, Fresh Tuna, Mackerel)

These contain heart-healthy omega-3, which protects you against heart disease and controls the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. To enjoy the benefits of omega-3, aim for 120g of fatty fish two to three times per week.

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Oranges, Kiwi and Strawberries

All of these share a high vitamin C content. Vitamin C is an antioxidant known to boost the immune system and lower the amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Why not snack on a smoothie with a concoction of your favorite vitamin-C rich fruits?

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Dried or fresh, dates satisfy your sweet buds while also lowering your blood pressure with their high magnesium and potassium content. So next time craving something sweet, ditch the chocolate bar and reach out for nutrient-rich dates instead.

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Almonds are powerful stress-busters with their high content of B vitamins and the antioxidant vitamin E. Together these help bolster your immune system and help your body cope with stress. Munch on a handful of almonds daily or add some to your salad to enjoy its benefits.

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Herbal Tea

Instead of opting for more cups of coffee, grab yourself a soothing cup of tea. Unlike caffeine, tea has been shown to calm the nervous system and lower cortisol levels in the body.

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Sweat your stress away! Smack a tennis ball, join a Zumba or kickboxing class or simply take a long walk. Exercise goes a long way towards lowering your stress levels by releasing mood-enhancing hormones into your system which help combat the negative effects of stress and prepare your mind and body to face challenging situations.

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