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What is the relationship among stress, serotonin, and food?

Chronic stress is at epidemic levels in America. Because of that, most of us have insufficient levels of serotonin in our bodies, the so-called “feel good” chemical that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. And, food is what we turn to when we are overwhelmed with stress.

Cortisol is the stress hormone causing havoc with our eating cues. When the body ramps up into the fight-or-flee mode during stressful situations, cortisol shuts down hunger sensors. When we do sit down to eat, we react by overeating or reaching for the wrong foods. There are some simple ways to manage stress and food consumption:

Choose nutritious fare to reduce anxiety levels. Control portions by making a habit of preparing and eating fresh food at home. Consume a variety of vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, and lean protein. This improves blood sugar levels and blood flow to the body, especially when it comes to brain function.

Some foods work very quickly to soothe stress levels: eggs, pumpkin or flax seeds, fatty fish, herbal and green tea, dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, turkey, and oats. Ease anxiety by reducing alcohol, sugar, and coffee consumption.

Keep healthy snacks handy. For instance, pack a banana or orange with lunch, store precut vegetables and hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, keep snack-bagged almonds, walnuts, and pistachios ready, and small containers of non-fat yogurt on hand.

Create a food routine. Schedule the same grocery-shopping day each week, pre-plan weekly menus, and stock up on go-to healthy foods to eliminate unnecessary stress and streamline food preparation.

Eat mindfully. When it’s time to eat, focus solely on tasting. Avoid texting, scrolling social media, or engaging in other tasks. Researchers suggest this reduces emotional exhaustion and anxiety. It may also promote weight loss as a result of the higher focus on the food being consumed.

Scientists see a direct link between digestive health and the brain. Serotonin is a complex neurotransmitter that connects the brain and intestinal tract. Our gut affects mood, in turn driving the effectiveness of brain processes from emotions to appetite, sleep, and even dreaming.

When serotonin levels are low, symptoms can manifest as anxiety in low-stress situations, fatigue even if well rested, reduced mental clarity, automatic negative thoughts, mood swings, and excessive worrying. Physically, there may be strong sugar cravings and insomnia or difficulty staying asleep.

Serotonin deficiencies can be caused by a variety of complex factors: sleeplessness, a diet low in tryptophan, high cortisol levels, inflammation from toxins and allergies, low levels of vitamin B6 or magnesium, and lack of exercise.

When cortisol is elevated all the time, serotonin may malfunction or cease to function at all. This can lead to the development of depression.

Being outdoors in sunlight, participating in mild to moderate exercise, and getting regular restorative sleep, can help increase and boost serotonin levels. Eating foods rich in tryptophan are beneficial in synthesizing 5-HTP, a fundamental building block of serotonin.

When stress is unrelenting, turn to a healthy whole foods-based diet and consider supplementing with QOL PureBalance™ Serotonin. This all-natural formula led by Rhodiola root extract helps the body make serotonin and is complemented with ingredients to support improved mood, sleep, and appetite control.

Recharge and regain control of chronic stress naturally!

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