Eat a Mediterranean diet to reduce stress levels

Eat a Mediterranean diet to reduce stress levels

Consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats may be key to helping us stay relaxed. Eating a Mediterranean diet could significantly reduce stress levels, a new study has found.

Researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US discovered that simply changing your diet could help to reduce the physiological effects of stress.

When the body is under mental or physical stress, it releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, and high levels of these hormones could lead to depression, anxiety, and even serious health conditions, such as heart disease.

However, switching to a Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, fish and unsaturated fats, may be key to helping us stay relaxed.

The researchers studied the effects of chronic stress and the acute stress on almost 40 middle-aged animals that were fed either a Mediterranean or Western diet.

Scientists then measured changes in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and in the adrenal gland hormone cortisol, and concluded the animals fed a Mediterranean diet showed enhanced stress resilience, and a quick recovery after the stress ended.

"Our study showed that the Mediterranean diet shifted the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system, which is good for health," study leader Professor Carol A. Shively explained. "By contrast, the Western diet increased the sympathetic response to stress, which is like having the panic button on all the time – and that isn't healthy."

And as the animals aged over the two-and-a-half year long study, the team discovered that the Mediterranean diet also slowed the aging of the sympathetic nervous system.

Shively concluded that adopting a Mediterranean diet may provide a simple way to reduce the negative impact of psychological stress.

(DPA/Reuters)

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