Stressed? Have sweet potatoes, green tea

Sweet potatoes, which are rich in fibre, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. [Courtesy]

Many have been stressed, but this worsened with the advent of a Covid-19 pandemic. What with job losses, businesses collapsing, relationships and marriages going south.

Well, you do not have to drink, smoke, chew khat or take certain drugs to deals with stress - which occurs when the body reacts to something mentally disturbing, that which changes your moods, or thoughts from positive to negative.

Stress being a temporary disorder varies from person to person. If not treated, however, it can result in high blood pressure, depression or even death. Remember, blood pressure is the precursor to depression, anxiety, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

But there are foodstuffs that are better at helping manage the vagaries of stress as recommended by nutritionists, dieticians and even hoteliers like Dedan Odhiambo of Serena, Kampala.

Mr Odhiambo recommends garlic, which is high in sulfur, a compound that increases levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that reduces ulcerative colitis linked to oxidative damage and stress. Garlic also helps transport mercury to the brain, which in turn reduces stress besides supporting the immune system via regenerating vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Odhiambo also includes sweet potatoes, which are rich in fibre, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins and which lowers the stress hormone cortisol, reducing stress. Sweet potato is an excellent source of beta-carotene, the same antioxidants found in carrot, which is converted into vitamin A.

Easter K’Ojwang’, the CEO of Eastnat Foods, concurs and adds that sweet potatoes also “support the immune system, healthy vision and gut health. It also protects one from free radical damage, improves blood sugar regulation and reduces chances of getting chronic diseases.”

Ms K’Ojwang’ also adds shellfish, which are rich in taurine and other amino acids that produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, essential in regulating stress and anxiety symptoms. Shellfish, she adds, are also loaded with vitamin B12, zinc and copper that boost mood from negative to positive.

K’Ojwang’ says both red and white meat are excellent source of vitamin B6, B12, folate and riboflavin, which are essential for stress control via producing neurotransmitters which help in mood control.

A pharmacist and dietary adviser Steve Waluande recommends eggs for those under severe stress. Eggs are known as nature multi-vitamins and are “packed with vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and minerals, which are required for a healthy stress response,” says Dr Waluande. “Whole eggs contain choline, which is neither a vitamin nor a mineral but can be categorized as B vitamins and help in reducing can stress.”

Then there is liver, which supports body functions like metabolism and cellular growth, hence a building block for neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which promote intelligence and memory in the brain.