Tout savoir sur le rapport entre l’alimentation et le stress

Everything you need to know about the relationship between food and stress

Jun 24, 2023

Stress is an adaptive response to potentially dangerous or threatening stimuli. Far from being trivial, it can have a significant impact on quality of life. Although there are various drug treatments available today to relieve stress , other levers can also contribute to stress management. This is particularly the case with food.

The impact of diet on stress

Having a balanced diet is a lifestyle rule well known to the general public. However, the link between diet and stress is still largely unknown. However, many studies are gradually being carried out on this subject. These results all converge towards a common conclusion: diet does indeed have an impact on stress management. A study carried out on more than 5,700 people revealed, among other things, that individuals adopting a better quality diet would present a lower risk of being depressed, while a higher consumption of processed and unhealthy foods was associated with an increase in anxiety . (1) Links have also been established between certain food consumption patterns and the level of stress as well as the consumption of psychotropic drugs. For example, a heavy consumer of prepared meals is more likely to follow an anxiolytic and/or antidepressant treatment. (2) Finally, the foods consumed also impact the ability to manage stressful situations . Indeed, diet plays a role in brain plasticity, that is to say in the brain's ability to adapt and change in the face of different situations. (3)

The impact of stress on eating behaviors

However, the link between diet and stress is close and dynamic. Indeed, diet plays a role in stress management. However, stress can also lead to changes in the content as well as the quantities of our meals. There are mainly two eating behaviors that can cause stress: undernourishment, or conversely, overeating. These phenomena could be explained in particular by the fact that stress impacts the neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for appetite. People suffering from chronic stress also consume more foods with a high nutritional and energy content , such as foods containing high amounts of sugar and fat. (4) This behavior can nevertheless be akin to a vicious circle: indeed, this type of food can trigger an inflammatory response that can aggravate stress . In addition to the aggravation of symptoms resulting from stress, a poor diet can have other significant consequences on health: risk factor for developing depression, risk of obesity, etc. (5)

Foods to eat to reduce stress

  • Oat flakes. They contain complex carbohydrates (which are also found in other cereals, in pulses, etc.). These boost the level of serotonin, thus improving the mood . They also have a high antioxidant content.
  • Oranges, rich in vitamin C, reduce the symptoms of stress by boosting immunity. They also help to neutralize free radicals produced by the body in stressful situations.
  • Nuts: their omega 3 and alpha linolenic acid content helps reduce blood pressure (induced by most stress factors ). They also play a role in preventing fluctuations in stress-related hormones.
  • Avocados, thanks to their compositions, are a real ally against stress. These include its high amount of folate, acting as a mood stabilizer .
  • Asparagus is also a folate-rich food. They therefore play a key role in regulating mood.
  • Forest fruits such as currants, blackcurrants, blueberries... Are also to be preferred. Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, they help reduce stress levels by specifically regulating cortisol levels.
  • Milk. Its antioxidants help fight free radicals caused by stress , while its proteins help reduce blood pressure. Finally, its potassium induces a decrease in cramps and muscle tension.
  • Infusions are also preferred. Their soothing actions promote well-being and relaxation . (6)
If certain foods indeed contribute to reducing the level of stress, others, on the contrary, aggravate the symptoms. It is therefore also important to limit the consumption of these foods: rich in saturated fat, sugar, highly processed…
  • (5) Berk M, Williams LJ, Jacka FN, O'Neil A, Pasco JA, Moylan S, Allen NB, Stuart AL, Hayley AC, Byrne ML, Maes M. (September 12, 2013). So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from? BMC Med.

Plus d'articles

Retours au blog

Vous avez encore plein d'articles à découvrir !