In this article, I share key nutrients, and their dietary sources, to help you to relax before your holiday.
Many of us try to cram in as much as possible by running around at a hundred miles an hour. We strive to ensure that we get all our work done, attend to families, do HIIT classes and make sure every meal is prepped. However, we often forget to relax because so much time is spent trying to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.
So, we live in a world where stress is so normal, it almost becomes a competition.
What actually happens to our bodies when we live in a constant state of tension?
Over-working and stress can increase the amount of cortisol released by the adrenal glands. Cortisol regulates metabolism, immune functioning and can affect memory. Excessive amounts of cortisol can result in weight gain, metabolic issues, a reduced immune function and poor memory.
This is why looking after yourself and learning to relax, is equally as important as eating well and exercising regularly.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which is required to help synthesise serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter which plays a role in mood, sexual function, bowel movements and sleep (among other roles). Travelling constantly and living life at a fast pace can affect serotonin levels and therefore our ability to sleep. However, eating diets rich in tryptophan can help to increase the serotonin.
Foods rich in Tryptophan include eggs, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds.
Magnesium plays a key role in numerous bodily functions including muscle and bone function, metabolism and nerve conduction. It has been shown to be an effective muscle relaxant which is great for post-workout DOMS or even just relaxing at the end of the week.
Sources of Magnesium include Epsom salts (great for adding to the bath), avocado, coconut, bananas, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Potassium works in conjunction with sodium and is important for maintaining electrolyte balance. This is essential in order to ensure the fluid in the body is balanced and to prevent excessive fluid within our outside of the cells. Potassium is also essential for nerve and muscle function. Low potassium can prevent muscle relaxation.
Key sources of Potassium include fruits, vegetables and beans.
4. Alcohol and Coffee
Although these are not nutrients they are key players in stimulating cortisol release. Consequently, in order to try and relax, I recommend attempting to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intakes. For more information on caffeine read my last article (here).
In conclusion, ensuring we allow time to relax is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Also, try to include these top nutrients in order to help you relax, and in an attempt to do so try and reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake too.
1. Strasser, B., Gostner, J. M., & Fuchs, D. (2016). Mood, food, and cognition: role of tryptophan and serotonin. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 19(1), 55-61.
2. Lieberman, H. R., Corkin, S., Spring, B. J., Growdon, J. H., & Wurtman, R. J. (1983). Mood, performance, and pain sensitivity: changes induced by food constituents. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 17(2), 135-145.
3. De Baaij, J. H., Hoenderop, J. G., & Bindels, R. J. (2015). Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiological reviews, 95(1), 1-46