Ahhhh that feeling of calm and relaxation after a yoga session… Wouldn’t it be great if it could last longer? Well it can, through nutrition.
Both yoga and nutrition have the power to modulate your hormones and your brain chemistry.
Yoga exerts its relaxing and stress reducing effects mostly by modulating two substances in the body: it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid).
So how can you achieve the same with nutrition?
How to lower cortisol:
Cortisol levels increase when blood sugar increases.
● Avoid or limit foods that spike blood sugar: refined flours and sugar found in white bread, pasta, biscuits, processed foods, coffee and alcohol.
● Increase fibers found in unprocessed whole foods that release energy slowly: sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans and whole fruits.
● Add proteins to every meal as they slow stomach emptying and keep you fuller for longer: organic meat and eggs, fish, beans, nuts and seeds.
How to increase GABA:
GABA is released when we drink alcohol, but luckily, we can achieve the same relaxing effect without the hangover.
● In order to produce GABA, your body needs vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. Make sure you include the following sources of these precious nutrients daily: Vitamin B6: salmon, lentils, spinach, sunflower seeds. Vitamin C: all colourful fruits and vegetables: papaya, peppers, broccoli, strawberries. Magnesium: pumpkin seeds, rainbow chard, cashews, cocoa, almonds. Zinc: sesame seeds, quinoa, shrimp, beans.
● Drink more tea: black and green tea contain the amino acid L-theanine which increases GABA production in the brain.
Want an extra boost? Don’t underestimate the power of herbs. Ashwagandha is a herb traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine, it has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, thereby reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
Namaste and bon appétit!
Written by Marie Pironneau, Nutritional Therapist at balance. Marie is offering free 15 minute consultations on Saturday 31 March. If you are interested n booking a slot, please contact reception on 0141 332 8800.