These foods are rich in nutrients that help to reduce stress hormones in the body (Image: Shutterstock)

Many have been stressed, but this worsened with the advent of a Covid-19 pandemic. Well, you do not have to drink, smoke, chew khat or take certain drugs to deal 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.

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. 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.”

Ms K’Ojwang’ also adds shellfish, which are rich in taurine, vitamin B12, zinc and copper and other amino acids that produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, is essential in regulating stress and anxiety. She says both red and white meat are excellent sources of Vitamin Bs which are essential for stress and mood control.

A pharmacist and dietary adviser Steve Waluande recommends eggs known as nature’s multivitamins “packed with vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and minerals, required for a healthy stress response,” says Dr Waluande. “Whole eggs contain choline, which is helps in reducing 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.

The liver, says Dr Waluande, is also involved in fat transport, DNA synthesis and nervous system.

Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which is important for brain functions hence essential for mental health. Vitamin E is essential to alter depression and stress as it contains stress nutrients which include zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, selenium and B vitamins. 

 Milk is also controller of stress as it contains lactium, a protein hydrolysate touted to manage to stress by lowering blood pressure and reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone released to control your fear, mood and stress.

Other foods that manage stress include green tea, yoghurt, dark chocolate and oranges which also boosts the immune system.