14th June 2018 by Jess
How do different foods affect your body in different ways? We’re not talking about the obvious like what happens if you eat cheeseburgers every day. We’re talking mental health, energy levels, ability to focus; all of these can be enhanced by getting the right foods in your belly.
Believe it or not, de-stressing isn’t all scented candles and whale sound CDs (not to say these aren’t personal faves). There are other ways of tackling anxiety and stress, both of which can show themselves in different ways, especially physical illness and fatigue. If you feel like this might ring true with you, there are some vitamins you can add to your diet to help support your body.
When we’re under pressure, our B-vitamins tend to get used up because they’re needed by our nervous system to power our brains. In order to keep yourself fuelled up and prepared to wrestle stress, vitamins B1, B2 and B3 will keep you from feeling sluggish.
What’s one of the most annoying ways to start to day? Waking up feeling more tired than you did the night before. Nothing’s better than a satisfying siesta, so a balanced diet of fibre, protein, healthy fats and carbs will help your body stabilise its blood sugars, which in turn will give you a better chance of getting that dreamy, restful sleep you’ve been looking for. But there’s more you can do to help!
Research suggests that magnesium (aka “nature’s tranquiliser”) is a nutrient that aids relaxation and sound sleep. It’s easy to have low magnesium levels these days because of reasons like digestive issues, stress or even sweating a lot from exercise. You can replenish your ‘zen’ by eating magnesium rich foods like nuts, whole grains and spinach.
So now you’ve gotten out of bed- what if it gets to 11am and you’re struggling to lift that cup of coffee to your mouth? You need an energy boost! Yes, having a caffeine hit might do that, but there are also some wholesome foods that could help your keep your energy levels in check.
If you have to read sentences more than once, perhaps your focus needs a top-up! There could be a dietary reason for a shortage of attention, and yes you’ve guessed it - there are foods out there perfect for fixing your focus!
Iron helps to deliver oxygen throughout the body and is important for transforming food into energy and brain function. It also lends a hand with your immune system too. Iron can be found in leafy green vegetables like kale for example. A key hormone that can help with focus is dopamine. It’s the brain’s pleasure and reward source, but when released it also helps to motivate and focus you. The way to promote production of dopamine is to eat protein-rich foods.
The last thing you want to get in the summer is a cold! The way to prevent illness? A tip-top immune system.
The first thing to look at when keeping your immune system in check, is vitamin C. As the body cannot store vitamin C, it’s an important component to keep topped up as regularly as possible. Eating either broccoli, kale or citrus fruits daily will keep your immune system loaded with vitamin C to tackle viruses.
Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium, which is an antioxidant that regulates immune function and inflammation. Very few foods contain selenium, and eating two to four brazil nuts per day is enough to meet your daily requirement.
By Jess, graze nutritionist.
Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to her website at jessntom.com for even more.
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