Keeping the End of Semester Snacking in Check

Audrey Slezak

The end of the semester has finally arrived, and with it comes endless papers, exams, presentations and projects. Stress can damage our bodies, alternating the different hormones and chemicals in our bodies. Cortisol is known as the primary stress hormone, altering immune response, and suppressing the digestive and reproductive system, as well as stunting the growth process. We are able to counteract some of these changes by consuming foods with the stress fighting Vitamin B.

One good way to start the day off right, and with less stress, is with a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is full of fiber, which keeps you fuller longer, and Vitamin B and magnesium. Magnesium has been shown to improve mental health, and the carbohydrate from the oatmeal produces serotonin, which helps calm you and fight anxiety.

For lunch, try to go for a meal containing fish. Fish is known as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and the stress fighting Vitamin B. Tuna contains high amounts of Vitamin B6 and B12. Fish offers high levels of Vitamin B, with a low fat content.
Quick snacks, like sunflower seeds and walnuts, are a great source of magnesium and folate. Walnuts help lower blood pressure, which is important for those with a high stress load. Magnesium and folate both help produce the neurotransmitter Dopamine, which produces a pleasure, or enjoyment, sensation in the brain.

Another nutrient-packed snack is blueberries. These little blue gems are jam packed with fiber, antioxidants and Vitamin C. They help your body counteracts the effects of stress on your immune system, as well as provides a sweet snack. Antioxidants help to reduce the free radicals, molecules with a lone electron that damage healthy cells, in your body by donating an electron to the free radical.
Craving some chocolate? Studies have shown that dark chocolate, in small moderate amounts, helps your body relax and enhance your mood. The chemical phenethylamine contained in dark chocolate, is responsible for enhancing your mood, and the different flavonoids help stimulate a calm, relaxed feeling. Consuming small amounts of dark chocolate helps reduce cortisol levels.

So remember, when feeling the stress of another paper or project, reach for some healthy, B vitamin packed snack. It is also important to remember to get at least eight hours of restful sleep. If you need that quick sweet snack, go for dark chocolate or blueberries, which help reduce cortisol levels and enhance your mood.

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