Beat Stress With Healthy Eating -What Is [Isn’t] Your Diet?

You are stressed, suffer from it on a daily basis and want to stay away from it-  Here is some good news for you. The good news is …..

Food can be your therapy for your stressed life. There are selected foods and there are reasons behind them to keep your stress at bay. 

Right food works to make your brain care for your stress relief. Not only that, there are foods you need to avoid/eliminate/control for not to become a victim of the unhealthy mental and physical pressure.

While a life living with joy and happiness could be your best gift and  you wish it would be an easy enough ride also.

Oh! no.

Treasures like these are slowly diminishing in the current society. The circumstances and situations -family, society and work related- can cause anger, frustration and nervousness resulting in emotional and physical stress.

Here is the pros and cons of stress in brief.

In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. However, long term persistent stress bears huge consequences on the body and mind (2) and can make you miserable.

Simply, being consistently stressed is unhealthy. The key is -can you control stress single handedly and naturally?

The answers is a huge “yes”. Then the next question is how?

While there are challenging situations to tense your mind that you may not have quite a control over, eating healthy food to beat the situation could be well under your feet.  

So, what can you eat and not eat to keep stress levels at bay and ensure healthy living? So let’s do the stress helper foods first.

What Are the Foods that May Challenge and Minimize Stress?

Consuming fiber-containing foods reduce the risk associated with depression, anxiety and stress (3).

Consume Food with Dietary Fiber- Improve Brain Health

Your brain health is connected to your gut through the ‘gut-brain’ axis which has control points for handling your emotion and managing stress hormones. Gut microbes help digestion, improves immunity and establishes healthy gut-brain connection. The brain controls the stress causing hormone release to elevate or lower the hormone. 

Thus having a healthy gut with more of beneficial gut bacteria offers you a healthy brain to better control the stress.

Gut bacteria loves foods with fiber. Here are some.

Pics: Fiber Containing Foods-Eat to Beat Stress


Vegetables-with Fiber-Reduce-Mental-Stress

Example of fiber rich gut healthy Foods–      

Whole grains- Brown rice, Quinoa 

Lentils- Moong dal, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils

Green leafy vegetables- spinach, moringa leaves, kale

Fruits- Papayas, mango, blueberries

Nuts and seed- Almond, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds


Adding varieties of food/ vegetables to your nutrition improves the microbial diversity. Having diverse and a surplus of health benefiting bacteria over ‘bad’ bacteria in your microbiome assembly that positivity impacts your health.

What other and important nutrition improve brain health? They are Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

What do the healthy fat of omega-3 fatty acids do?- The Key To a Healthy Brain

Omega-3- Fatty Acids are brain healthy food category and backed by science. They cross the blood-brain barrier and directly influence the brain and central nervous system cells.

Omega-3 fatty acids help increase the blood flow in the brain. An increased blood circulation with oxygen help uplift your  low and depressed mind. They affect physiological and perceived reactions to mental stress to relieve your stress.  

Scientists report, Dietary deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of developing various psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism.

For a comprehensive list of foods with high omega-3 please visit the following link. Eating Superfood Salmon 75 g/ day, 3 days a week can greatly support your brain. There are other sources like flax seeds, sesame seeds can help as non-vegetarian sources. 

However, in case of a deficiency of this important brain healthy food, there are effective supplements of Omega-3 fat available to help.

Talk to your physician and use it to benefit your brain quality.

Consuming up to 2000 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per day reduces high levels of anxiety. 

Omega-3 fatty acid containing capsules are broadly available to serve you as well. Ask your physician to help you pick your best fish oil tablet. 

Fermented and Cultured Foods- Pro-Biotics 

Studies have found that probiotics have a certain role in alleviating negative emotions, reducing abnormal behaviors, improving cognitive function, and also showing the great potential of probiotics in relieving psychological stress

Probiotics and Prebiotics-Cheese as Probiotic









Research has shown that ingesting the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus (L.) plantarum P-8, for 12 weeks could alleviate stress and anxiety of stressed adults, supporting that the gut-brain axis was involved in relieving stress-related symptoms. 

Then comes to what you don’t eat to help reduce your stress?

Minimize your Stress by Minimizing or Simply Avoiding These 

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial Sweeteners

Coffee Has Been Your Lifeline- But Care for How Much is Safe Before it Becomes Problematic? 

Does drinking coffee elevate your stress level? Yes and no.

Coffee boosts your mind, creates alertness in your brain, makes you energetic, focuses you on your routine and you don’t feel lazy.

You comprehend –

Isn’t it the best way to start your day”?

Not only that, scientists support that coffee reduces the risk of developing dementia, stroke, lowers the cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it needs more research to fully substantiate the fact. 

Caffeine shuts down a brain region that typically helps regulate anxiety.

Refresh or familiarize yourself about the quantity you may drink without adverse reaction.

100 mg/day shows no effect on anxiety.

100-400 mg/ day comes up with mixed results.  

Above 400 mg a day, shows a significant increase in anxiety.

What is the downside of coffee none other than if you drink too much.

Follow The Regulatory Guidelines.

This 400 mg/ per day is corroborated with the FDA’s official guideline. Staying within the recommended is safe.

According to scientists at the FDA, caffeine can be part of a healthy diet for most people, but too much caffeine may pose a danger to your health. Depending on factors such as body weight, medications you may take, and individual sensitivity, “too much” can vary from person to person.

The FDA estimates toxic effects, like seizures, can be observed with rapid consumption of around 1,200 milligrams of caffeine, or 0.15 tablespoons of pure caffeine.

There are sodas, drinks, chocolates, muffins etc. containing caffeine. If you have favorites, add those as well to count your caffeine intake and check your  limit. Try to stay on the lower end.

The most prized possession for a stressed person is sleep. Be smart not to drink coffee 3 hours before your bedtime. Try not to drink caffeinated beverages ( including tea) after mid afternoon. (Whitney Bowe, MD).

Here is another one to track in your way to better health and better mind.

Relaxation with alcohol may come at a significant price: Keep control over drinking 

Alcohol feels like a stress reliever at the beginning. It does work but the problem could be people keep using more and more. They get into a habit and suffer from withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. This happened in social settings more often. 

It is usual for adults to relieve stress by having a drink after the day of work. It’s considered a pleasure. To keep your stress level low, don’t have a second glass of wine or maybe skip alcohol altogether.

More than that, try to eliminate or replace cocktails with loaded sugar and syrup. Instead add fresh lime and lemon. Sugar adds more stress to your mind.

Relaxation with alcohol may come at a significant price. Keep control over drinking.

“Cutting back on the booze can be a really effective way to improve your health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money” (ref.).

Consuming natural Sugar is really bad for stress. But can you use sugar substitutes?

Artificial Sweetener

Look for artificial sweeteners in your food label.

Artificial sweeteners have no nutritional value and can increase “bad” gut bacteria and therefore negatively affect mood and anxiety. 

Possible neurophysiological symptoms include learning problems, headache, seizure, migraines, irritable moods, anxiety, depression, and insomnia (ref.)

Sweeteners like aspartame (“Coke Zero” contains Aspartame) have been more directly linked with anxiety and should be avoided, or at the very least used in moderation. 

What are Some of the Best (Secret) Foods to grab When You Are Stressed?

Relax your mind with these readily available nutritious choices to relax your heavy mind. Grab a piece of chocolate, chew some pumpkin seeds is not difficult. Keep them around. Make conscious effort to keep them around.

  1. Dark Chocolate
  2. Avocado
  3. Salmon
  4. Pumpkin Seeds
  5. Pistachio
  6. Cashew

Always hydrate enough and pair with exercise.



“Empty your stress plate with stress relieving food, It really can be that simple. You will eat anyway, why not live with the best mind?”   Anonymous


  • Food can play an important and meaningful role in your day-to-day life creating a healthier you. Healthy meals with brain healthy nutrients relieve your uncalm and agitated mind. They center you.
  • Load your plate with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Care for the varieties.
  • Add Omega-3 containing foods to your meals.
  • Store some quick mental healthy treats to elevate your mood. Pick them up as you need.
  • Refrain from alcohol, drinking unlimited amounts of coffee throughout the day. 
  • Your regular exercise and adequate hydration is part of assuring you with a healthy brain and mind.


All information and resources found on this article are based on the opinions of the author resulting from researching NIH, NCBI and many of high authority websites unless otherwise noted.  It is intended to encourage readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider.

Anusuya Choudhury

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