Heightened emotions of any kind for prolonged periods can stress out your body. A study released by PubMed reveals that depression can weaken your immune system by raising your body’s production of interleukin 6 (IL-6). Elevated levels of IL-6 have been associated with chronic inflammation, which can make you susceptible to a number of autoimmune disorders, including lupus and multiple sclerosis.
Green Veggies and Turkey Sandwich
The importance of eating well when you’re stressed or overworked can’t be overstated. The tendency during these times is to consume salty, fatty foods. Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was recently quoted in a HuffPost Healthy Living article, advising stressed-out workers to eat calming salads. “Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm,” said Mangieri. Similarly, she suggests lunch breakers down a turkey sandwich which has the amino acids they need to stay calm. “the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness and well-being,” said Mangieri.
The Power of Magnesium and Vitamin D
Two common nutrients lacking in people who are emotionally and mentally distressed are magnesium and vitamin D. An article in Psychology Today noted that Magnesium, often called the “chill pill” can reduce depression—even among seriously depressed individuals. The authors add that magnesium is sequestered and wasted via the urine in times of stress, so replenishing it is important. WebMD suggests getting your magnesium from legumes, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, squash, and green leafy vegetables), seeds, and nuts (especially almonds). As for vitamin D, it’s not surprising that we tend to feel better when we’re out in the sunshine. This vital hormone that helps activate feel-good neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.
What Not to Eat
Turning candy, potato chips, alcohol or energy drinks is the last thing you should put into your body when you’re angry or stressed out. A Huffington Post article recently cited Heather Bauer, R.D., as she stressed the importance of avoiding these junk foods. “People tend to crave foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt because those directly increase our cortisol levels,” noted Bauer. The physical effects of sugar and white flour have been widely documented. Both lead to a sudden and sharp rise in blood sugar, followed by a freefall that makes us crash and sleepy. This is cycle damages our to bodies and makes us more susceptible to becoming more stressed out and grumpy.