Nathalie Chantal de Ahna— When was the last time you soothed your nerves with a supersize pizza, a bowl of ice-cream or a bag of potato chips?
I actually craved exactly that kind of junk food last night, after a particularly exhausting day with my two toddlers, a work issue I wasn't able to solve right away and a stupid fight with my mother that I only picked because my stress levels were sky-high.
Luckily, years of junk food addiction plus my training as an orthomolecular nutritionist (aka micronutrient nutritionist) have taught me one thing: Although crappy food can give you instant relief, chances are you'll feel even more irritated once your sugar high wears off. On the other hand, providing your body with the right micronutrients can make even the darkest day brighter, significantly relieve tension and keep both your cravings and waistline in check.
Here are four micronutrients that you want daily to help keep your stress levels down:
Folate is a B-vitamin that helps your system produce serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation. Folate-rich foods are dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, and seeds or nuts.
Did you know that 12 percent of Americans aren't getting enough zinc? Zinc is an essential trace element which, among other things, supports a positive outlook, as well as calmer stress responses.
If you want to increase your zinc-rich food intake, regularly put grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken, ginger roots, beans, peanuts, almonds or oats on your shopping list.
Magnesium, which is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions, has been called the "miracle micronutrient" and much of the U.S. population isn't consuming enough of it.
Magnesium is one of the minerals our body depletes like crazy when we're stressed out, but also needs in ample amounts in order to relax. Foods high in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, wild salmon, dark chocolate and bananas.
It may not be all that obvious, but your gut has a direct affect on your brain. For example, probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium, found in supplements as well as fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir or sauerkraut, have been linked to lower stress-induced hormones, which leaves you less anxious and in a better mood.
"Good gut bacteria" in general maintain the natural balance of micro-organisms in your intestines and have been linked to numerous health benefits such as micronutrient absorption, regular bowel movements and overall mental well-being and outlook.
We all experience stress, most of us on a daily basis. While completely getting rid of all stress factors might be the most effective countermeasure, it's probably not the most realistic.
What can we do instead? Make the above anti-stress nutrients part of our daily life. Eat more micronutrient-rich foods and take a high-quality supplement that includes a broad-spectrum of micronutrients in absorbable forms.
It took me a very long time to find a high-quality supplement that “has it all” but I recently discovered MicroNourish, whose fantastic brain-gut formula promotes exactly what we all need: inner balance, mental clarity and a healthy relationship with food. They also have Superfood Probiotics as part of their daily system. I love these products so much that I agreed to become one of their experts!
Nathalie Chantal de Ahna is an orthomolecular nutritionist and mindfulness coach who'll never pose in front of a camera holding a glass of green juice. As a formerly depressed and bulimic co-dependent she knows what it really takes to get your life back on track: a cup of vitamin hacks your doctor won't tell you about, three tablespoons of holistic lifestyle changes that even busy mums / entrepreneurs like herself can implement, and a pinch of humor.
Nathalie is an Expert Advisor to MicroNourish a premier system of nutritional formulas designed to target brain and gut balance to promote improved focus, stable moods, better digestion, and a balanced relationship with food. She contributes her expertise to the brand, and shares her knowledge with readers of the MicroNourish Magazine.
Neither a preachy guru nor a perfect health babe Nathalie also shares her personal hacks on her blog, Vitamin Recipes, as well as in several other online magazines.