Best Foods and Herbs for Stress Management

According to Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Health/Wellness Coach Amber Gordon

Have you ever thought to yourself that your state of mind is a reflection of your eating habits? Eat good, look good, feel good! A well-balanced diet can be the key to any good day that you may want to have and the secret weapon needed to combat any negative feelings, self-talk or stress. Holistic nutritionist Amber Gordon uses her platform to educate young Black girls about nutrition and the superpower of foods from the benefits of probiotics to the reason behind your constant bloating.

“Black girls must know about the power of food and herbs because food is medicine. Our ancestors relied on food and herbs to heal themselves. Most of our ancestors did not have access to medication, and the medication we have today did not exist years ago,” Gordon told ESSENCE about the power of food as nourishment and healing for our bodies. “Food is here to heal us or destroy our bodies. It’s up to us to make that choice. In the Black community, we are known for our Soul Food, but I want to challenge young Black girls to create their definition of soul food. What foods feed and nourish your soul so that you can be the best version of yourself?”

The Amber Got The Juice, Inc. founder connected with Girls United about the best foods and herbs for your mental health – and which ones to avoid! See below:

Balanced Diets in Relation to Anxiety, Stress and Depression:

When we’re constantly stressed, our body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which triggers a host of physiological responses, including increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone responsible for helping us manage both stress and blood sugar levels. Staying in a fight-or-flight state over a long time can lead to health issues ranging from weight gain to increased inflammation (which is the root cause of most diseases) to elevated blood sugar.

A healthy diet can help counter stress by building up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. It is essential to maintain a balanced blood pressure to manage stress levels. A diet rich in fruits, whole grains, and vegetables is healthier than eating simple carbohydrates found in processed foods. When you eat is also essential. Skipping meals can result in drops in blood sugar that cause you to feel jittery, experience low energy, which may worsen underlying stress and anxiety.

Best Foods for a Better Mood:

While normal simple day-to-day stress is difficult to avoid, chronic stress can take a  toll on physical and emotional health. I always recommend having a diet filled with leafy greens such as swiss chard and kale. Some other foods you want to consider are sweet potato, probiotic foods like kimchi, eggs, fatty fish, garlic, chickpeas, blueberries. Focusing on whole foods that are not packed with chemicals and artificial flavors is what you want to focus on consuming. Also, Water! you can’t forget about drinking your water.

Foods to Avoid When You’re Already Stressed Out:

When experiencing stress or anxiety, you want to avoid consuming a lot of processed meat and go for more lean meats and wild-caught fish. You also want to avoid refined sugars, processed carbs, fried food, and high-fat dairy products. The number one food I would recommend removing is sugar because eating sugary foods can spike your blood sugar levels, and the body must release more cortisol to balance blood sugar. The problem is that increased cortisol can also cause sleep issues, decreased immune response, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. 

Herbs to Incorporate in Your Daily Meals:

Some of my favorite herbs that reduce stress are Chamomile, Turmeric, Parsley, Lavender, Kava kava, Ginger, Ashwagandha, and Cannabidiol. It’s best to consume your herbs and spices in tea form or sprinkle them on top of your food.

Photo Credit: Amber Gordon/@AmberGotTheJuice

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