Food Fighters For Stress and Sleep

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, fainted in 2008, hit her head on her desk, broke her chin bone, and got five stitches over her right eye.  In 2011, the chief executive from Lloyd’s Banking Group announced that he was taking time off because he was suffering from “extreme fatigue.” In 2015, the CEO of BMW fainted on stage while presenting in Germany.

All three of these stories have one commonly reported theme: lack of sleep and constant stress.

Although stress can stem from personal and/or work related disturbances, The American Institute of Stress reports that physical and emotional stress can also arise from a mismatch in capabilities, resources, or needs of an individual and the job requirements. This mismatch is known as job stress and is the number one stressor for American adults.

Recognizing stress responses can come as a disguise to some, but others are well aware of the how their bodies react when triggered. The word stress, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a state of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” The onset of an external event sends a signal to the brain that causes a bodily alarm to occur, thus challenging its state of equilibrium and forcing it to fight its way back.  

When this event is unfavorable, your body goes into defense mode through numerous emotional or physical responses.  Physical responses can be the interference of bodily systems, immune system disturbances, heart palpitations, chest pain, rashes/hives, sleep disturbances, or weight loss/gain. Emotional responses can show through excessive defensiveness, difficulty communicating, nervous habits, overreaction/increased frustration, or reduced work efficiency/productivity.  

Aside from practicing techniques to help bring your body back to its equilibrium and sleep better (which I highly suggest to find what works best for you!), staying fueled with the proper nutrients can also help on your journey to de-stress.  Here are a few nutrients in particular:

  • Tart cherry juice concentrate: not only does this juice contain melatonin to help improve sleep quality and duration, but it also can act as an anti-inflammatory to help with those painful joints.
  • Salmon: a source omega-3s, this food can decrease anxiety and inflammation and help keep your nerves calm during stress triggered events.
  • Pumpkin seeds: this food source contains magnesium, a key electrolyte in regulating blood pressure.
  • Chicken: believe it or not, chicken has a higher tryptophan content than the turkey on your Thanksgiving dinner table! Tryptophan helps to produce serotonin, which can help us feel relaxed and sleepy.
  • Walnuts: when eaten in moderation, the natural source of melatonin absorbs well in your body.
  • Chickpeas: an optimal snack choice that contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which can help maintain your blood pressure. Chickpeas are also a great source for healthy starches and protein.


American Institute of Stress. Stress Effects.

Grotto, David. The Best Things You Can Eat (2013). Boston, MA. Da Capo Press.

Merriam Webster. Definition of Stress.

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