Foods for Stress: 7 Ayurvedic Foods to Find Your Inner Calm
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.
Check out our the results of our coconut water taste test!
Image courtesy of Flickr user Rodrigo_Soldon
Warm milk soothes our systems and is very satisfying due to its complete nutritional supplements, Dr. Kakunje says.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Fields of View
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.”
Try these recipes:
Gwinganna’s Persian Chilled Yogurt Soup Recipe
Orange Almond Tuiles
Forest Farro Stuffing with Fennel, Wild Mushrooms and Sage
Grilled Figs with Creamy Honeyed Ricotta and Almonds
Image courtesy of Flickr user DeusXFlorida
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.
Image courtesy of Flickr user thepinkpeppercorn
The following herbs used as essential oils, massage oils, herbal tea and in food can help the body and mind to combat stress, Dr. Kakunje says. These herbs improve the immune function and reduce fatigue. In Ayurveda, they are considered as Vata-and Pitta-reducing herbs.
1. Chamomile: Calming
2. Pennywort (Brahmi): Calming, memory booster
3. Ashwagandha: Nerve tonic, stress reliever
4. Mint: Soothing, calming
5. Lavender: Calming
Read more about the relaxing effects of chamomile tea.
Essential Oils: Sesame and Coconut
Calming oils work when they are applied to the skin, but you can also use sesame or coconut oil in food for a similar effect, says Chef Rout. Apart from calming the mind, these oils also benefit your heart and metabolism.
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