It's been a helluva year so far with one thing or another, and as you may remember from a previous blog around New Years, I use diet to help keep on top of things, alleviate stress and calm my system naturally. At times of stress, the temptation to eat feel good foods like sweets, crisps, and other sugary pick me ups which boost the feel good factor but once the sugar high drops, my mood and energy can crash lower than before.
The acid reducing detox diet by Dr. Joshi is great for helping us to relax. Reducing acid in the body means you sleep better, have smaller energy spikes/more sustained energy levels, feel more positive naturally, and feel more on top of work-loads and other factors that can cause stress. You can reduce acid in the body and create a more alkaline internal environment by cutting out the following:
1. Wheat (eat rice cakes, gluten free bread instead of bread, and rice or rice pasta instead of wheat pasta)
2. Coffee/Tea (except Green Tea)
4. Fruit (except Bananas)
5. Dairy (goats dairy is ok and so is mozzarella cheese)
6. Deadly nightshades like potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, etc.
8. Red meat (eat fish or chicken instead)
The Dr Joshi detox diet is for 3 weeks and I thoroughly recommend it if you want to see how much impact a diet can have to help us feel relaxed and happy.
On top of the Joshi approach, the following comprises a nutritional top 10 of foods that can help us relax:
1. It’s nuts
Nuts,especially Brazil nuts, are very high in selenium which when lacking can lead to increased anxiety and depression. A handful of mixed nuts can also keep tiredness at bay.
You can swap nuts with Tuna, Cod Salmon and shitake mushrooms as these foods also have selenium but not as much as nuts.
2. Spinach like Popeye!
Spinach is packed full of Magnesium which helps to keep our muscles and nerves relaxed. Magnesium can help to prevent muscle tension, cramps and fatigue. Spinach is also a good source of vitamin A, C, iron and folate. One cup of fresh spinach or half a cup of cooked spinach a day is ideal. An organic version is best (or grow your own!), because spinach usually is high in pesticides! You can buy magnesium supplements too to take during the day if you have restless legs at night.
Other sources of magnesium are halibut, pumpkin seeds and peppermint
3. Go herbal
Basil contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which is good for rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions. And it tastes so fresh and yum. Add a handful to your meal and get a boost of iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. If you’re cooking with it, add at the end so you don’t lose the fresh flavor! Basil also contains magnesium!Other herbs which can help to reduce stress are: Lemon balm and chamomile.
Try a herbal infusion at night before bed, or during the day if things are feeling a bit hectic.
4. The dark side!
Dark Chocolate contains an Amino Acid called Tryptophan which is used by the body to create serotonin (a neuro chemical which relaxes the brain). Dark chocolate is very rich in tryptophan but make sure you choose one that’s high in cocoa solid and not sugar.
Tryptophan can be found also in proteins like almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, legumes and red meat, and we cover this more in some of the other foods below:
5. The 3 bears
Complex carbohydrates like oats enhance the absorption of tryptophan, which is in turn used to manufacture serotonin. These carbohydrates wont flood your body with sugars and are also a great source of soluble fibre which helps to lower cholesterol. Eat with non animal proteins like Nuts, or sunflower seeds.
Other sources include Brown rice, unrefined grains and legumes.
Milk also contains the protein tryptophan which as we know the body converts to serotonin. Neuro-transmitter not only helps you to relax, but also makes you sleep more soundly. So if you are milk tolerant and want a cosy drift into sleep, drink some milk before bed.
7. Relish the Taste of Ocean
Shrimps are small but are packed with tryptophan and selenium as well as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B12. And if you’ve heard that shrimps are high in cholesterol, some studies suggest that the cholesterol in shrimps may actually be good for you!
Other sources are lobsters!
Broccoli is a fantastic provider of Potassium, Beta-carotene, and vitamins E and C! Low potassium levels can cause muscle tiredness, feelings of fatigue and make you irritable and anxious. And the vitamins help to boost our immune systems.
Alternative sources of potassium include avocado, banana, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, winter squash, Aubergine and tomatoes.
9. A nice cuppa
Green tea is rich in L-theanine which is an amino acid mainly found in tea leaves and is found to reduce stress, promote relaxation and enhance mood by stimulating the production of alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves is when our mind is in a more relaxed and calmer state. Beta brain waves. It’s a super food really as it lowers risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, reduces blood pressure, prevents hypertension, and promotes weight loss. It’s totally Amazing!!
For an alternative, try Black tea and oolong tea as they also contain L-theanine and anti-oxidizing properties found in green tea.
10. Kiwi Fruit
In order to convert Tryptophan to serotonin we need Vitamin C! Kiwi fruit is absolutely jam packed with Vit C and will satisfy your vit C needs with just 1 fruit!
Alternatives include: Strawberries, papaya, orange, grapefruit and guava are just some of them.