Modern-day living and all the busyness and stress that comes along with it can do a real number on your central nervous system, especially if you are not taking proactive steps to counteract this perpetual negative effect on your body. Rather than feed energy and nutrients into your body's productive systems, an overtaxed nervous system typically expends most of its resources just trying to defend the body against attack, whether it be in the form of anxiety, panic, or stress, which depletes your energy reserves and potentially even harms your endocrine system.
One way to help counteract this damage; however, is to consume foods that minimize the amount of time and energy your nervous system spends in catabolic mode, which tears down the body, and maximizes the amount of time and energy it spends in anabolic mode, which nourishes, heals, and regenerates the body. Here are seven powerful foods that can help calm your nervous system naturally for maximum health:
1) Whey. Because it is naturally rich in L-tryptophan, not to mention a whole range of other healing amino acids and nutrients, whey is an excellent food for calming your nervous system naturally. Tryptophan has been shown to assist in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter hormone that regulates endocrine, digestive, nervous system, and blood health. And since low levels of serotonin are linked to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, taking whey can help boost anabolic function.
Whey is also rich in L-glutamine, a non-essential amino acid that is the precursor to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a substance that helps regulate the nervous system and promote calmness. So if you are not allergic to milk-based foods, taking a high-quality whey protein supplement such as Proventive, One World Whey, or Jay Robb is a great way to boost your overall nutritional intake and feed your body the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy, well-functioning nervous system.
2) Sweet potatoes, yams. A complex carbohydrate food that contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins, sweet potatoes are another nutritionally-dense food that can help calm your nerves, eliminate stress, and even lower your blood pressure. Similarly, yams contain an array of nutrient compounds that feed the glandular system and promote respiratory, urinary, and nervous system health.
3) Bananas. Many athletes eat bananas after a game or match because the fruit contains potassium, an electrolyte that helps the body stay hydrated. But bananas also contain magnesium, vitamin B6, and other nutrients that help boost production of digestion-enhancing mucous, as well as promote feelings of happiness and calm inside the body. Eating bananas also aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that regulate mood and sleeping patterns, and promote muscle relaxation and stress relief.
4) Green, herbal tea. Sometimes the best way to take the edge off is to have a nice cup of warm herbal or green tea. Green tea in particular contains an amino acid known as L-theanine that enhances mood by stimulating the production of alpha waves in the brain. L-theanine also helps reduce stress and promote relaxation naturally.
5) Dark chocolate, cacao. Similar to whey, dark chocolate and cacao contain L-tryptophan, the neurotransmitter responsible for relaxing the brain. But dark chocolate and cacao also contain magnesium, a mineral widely recognized for its ability to calm the nervous system. Millions of Americans unknowingly suffer from magnesium deficiency, and while eating chocolate is not the ideal way to correct this deficiency, adding a little extra dark chocolate or raw cacao into your diet can help calm your nerves and promote restfulness.
"Chocolate contains a neurotransmitter known as anandamide that has the ability to alter dopamine levels in the brain, causing a sense of peace and relaxation.," says Dr. Kristie Leong, M.D. "Chocolate is also rich in tryptophan, the precursor to the serotonin which appears to play a role in relieving stress and promoting a sense of calmness."
6) Brazil nuts. Said to be nature's richest source of selenium, Brazil nuts are virtually unmatched in the nut world when it comes to relaxing the nervous system. According to a study out of the University of Wales, eating the equivalent of just three Brazil nuts daily can help significantly boost mood, promote feelings of calm, ease anxiety, and raise energy levels in as few as three months.
7) Spinach. In order for your brain and nervous system to function as they should, your body needs a high input of fat-soluble vitamins that contribute to the building up of the fatty layers that protect your nerves from damage. And one such vitamin is vitamin K, which you can get in high amounts by eating spinach. Spinach also helps regulate the production of hormones in the nervous system to improve mood, sleeping patterns, and the body's response to physical activity and stress.