By Amy Sung | September 10, 2012
Find Your Inner Calm with Stress-Relieving Foods
We set out to learn what foods can help us find our inner Zen and relieve stress, and to get the Ayurvedic angle, we talked to Dr. Prasanna Kakunje, M.D. (Ayu), Ayurveda doctor at Jiva Spa, Vivanta by Taj – Bekal, Kerala, in India, and Ashis Rout, executive chef at Ananda in the Himalayas.
“In general, all bland and/or sweet foods are calming and stress relieving, due to their Vata- (air) and Pitta- (fire) pacifying nature,” Dr. Kakunje says. “Vata and Pitta are the factors [that] are the stimulants and driving forces behind all mental and physical functions, and hence, calming them down helps to reduce that ‘adrenaline rush’ in the body, thereby helping in calming and reducing anxiety.”
Berries, Bananas, Sweet Orange, Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
These fruits help to calm down the fire energy (Pitta) and reduce stress by supplementing a good amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6, Dr. Kakunje says.
“When you are feeling hyper, a bowl of berries can do wonders,” Chef Rout agrees. “Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries contain healthy antioxidants and vitamin C, plus they help prevent a boost in cortisol — the stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland.”
Calming, satisfying, soothing and nourishing, coconut water also supplements potassium in the body and helps in combating muscular stress as well, Dr. Kakunje says.
Warm milk soothes our systems and is very satisfying due to its complete nutritional supplements, Dr. Kakunje says.
Nuts (Cashew, Walnuts and Almonds)
Rich in “good fat” and linoleic acid, nuts help in reducing mental stress, according to Dr. Kakunje.
Chef Rout of Ananda in the Himalayas agrees. “You could try softening almonds in the morning then eat them before bed time to help your mind rest,” Rout suggests. “Or you could also eat raw almonds during the day before eating other foods because it helps absorb nutrients better. Moreover, this has mono-saturated fat, which is good for your heart.”
Sweet combats Pitta (fire energy) and Vata (air energy), which are the forces behind stress and fatigue. “Chocolate satiates both body and mind, and it has been noted that chocolate releases ‘feel-good factors’ like endorphins in the body,” Dr. Kakunje tells us.
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