Eat to beat stress

Can you eat yourself calm? You’d be surprised. Here are 5 key changes that can make a big difference:


  1. Eat a low GL diet
    Anxiety is associated with raised levels of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.Eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in protein and fats can unbalance blood sugar, causing it to peak and dip,promoting the release of adrenal hormones. Eating a low GL diet containing slow-releasing carbohydrates eaten with protein is the first step towards reducing stress and has a major impact.
  2. Increase magnesium Often called nature’s tranquiliser, Magnesium is an important nutrient that relaxes your mind and your muscles and helps regulate cortisol levels and promote feelings of well being. It’s also depleted by chronic stress;as is vitamin C. Symptoms of deficiency include; muscle aches, cramps, anxiety and insomnia. Sources include seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruit, especially dark green leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach. Eat these magnesium-rich foods every day and supplement an additional 300mg. If you are especially stressed or can’t sleep, supplement 300mg in the evening. 
  3. Using a Rainbow as a nutritional guide ensures you benefit from a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Stress has been linked to low levels of folic acid which is found in asparagus.It may also be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency so opt for avocados which are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. When we’re stressed, our bodies need vitamin C and antioxidants which lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol and help repair and protect cells; choose blueberries, oranges and kiwis. Almonds are rich in vitamins B2 and E, both of which boost the immune system during times of stress. Salmon is great because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids which helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you’re feeling tense. Finally, turkey contains amino acid tryptophan which signals the brain to release the feel-good chemical serotonin, promoting calmness.
  4. Reduce stimulants We like stimulants because they increase adrenal hormones and increase energy and motivation. But the more we have the more we need until we can’t function without them. Reducing caffeine including coffee and high caffeine energy drinks, nicotine and alcohol can help rebalance our own natural energy levels – it’s not easy and will take at least a few days through eating a low GL diet and taking the right supplements. 
  5. Supplement Sometimes we need a little temporary help through supplementation. If you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet, extra supplementation should only last for a month or two, just long enough to resolve the deficiency. To support stress I’d recommend:
  • 2 x High potency multivitamin with B vitamins, zinc 10mg and magnesium 100mg
  • 2 x Vitamin C 1000mg
  • 2 x Essential omegas providing both omega 3 and 6 fats
  • 2 x Chromium 200mcg – particularly effective in those with symptoms of depression associated with sugar cravings, feeling tired and oversensitive.


Shani Shaker BA (hons), dipION, mBANT, CNHC, is a registeredShani Shaker: Health, Beauty & Nutrition Therapistnutritional therapist with a focus on regenerative and functional nutrition. Contact her at [email protected] or via


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