Today’s world has most everybody feeling about as far from relaxed as possible. However, don’t take that as permission to let stress take over your life -- or your body. Stress impacts the human body both emotionally and physically. When you feel stressed, your body begins releasing free radicals which
are little malicious molecules that kick-off a process in the body called oxidative stress and, according to an article by Medical News Today, “can damage the body’s cells, leading to a range of diseases and […] symptoms of aging such as wrinkles.”
The good news is what you put in your body is one way to help counteract stress symptoms. Yes, we’re talking about lentils! We explain how lentils can de-stress your diet.
1. Lentils Are a Low Glycemic Carbohydrate (LGC)
LGC’s help increase and sustain the brain’s serotonin levels, aka that hormone that makes a person feel happy and less anxious. Alternatively, a high glycemic carb (HGC), causes quick spikes and even quicker falls in blood sugar and serotonin, which doesn’t end in lasting happiness (more on this in point 2).
On the Glycemic Index, a tool that calculates how much of a certain kind of food will boost blood sugar in the body, a LGC falls at a rating level of 55 or less. You can see the spike and lower sustained effects represented on the chart below.
This is why eating LGCs, like lentils, make for a wiser choice if you’re feeling stressed out.
2. Lentils Help Counter “Stress Munchies”
Due to having high fiber/protein content, lentils fill you up more efficiently than a salty snack like chips (a go-to for many who experience the “stress munchies”). As mentioned in point 1, this has to do with the Glycemic Index. An HGC -- like potato chips -- is going to cause rapid increase in blood sugar. HGCs are a lot easier for the body to digest so get digested faster than an LGC would. The end result being a rapid fall in blood sugar soon after the rapid spike and your brain seeing a downward spiral in serotonin, the “happy hormone.”
The extremely quick rise and fall of blood sugar and serotonin results in depression, increased anxiety, and never-ending “stress munchies”. Adding an LGC to your diet like lentils can help to evenly maintain blood sugar and serotonin levels, counteracting repetitive, stress-induced hunger.
Magnesium is an important micronutrient, a fancy word for vitamins and minerals. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, and making protein, bone and DNA.” Just knowing that you’re helping your body to operate in a more healthy manner by adding lentils to your diet is one less thing to stress about.
4. Lentils Are Easy to Cook
If you haven’t checked out our blog on how to easily make Mexican Lentil Soup (Montana style!), that’s one to add to your reading list for a great example of how easy it is to cook lentils. That aside, consider how stressful it’s been to have to cook homemade dinners so much more often than normal. The current pandemic has eliminated or restricted options for eating out which allowed homemakers a break from planning and cooking meals all the time.
Lentils can help save the day when it’s time to cook yet another family meal and you’re just not feeling it. Lentils can be incorporated into any meal of the day. A quick look at our recipe page will allow you to see how versatile lentils are. You name it – breakfast, lunch, dinner – lentils are a viable choice, and can be cooked quickly meaning not having to stress anymore over complicated, lengthy recipes.
Stress is not going to make what was once normal come back to life, or cause current issues to be resolved quicker. It is more productive, instead, to focus on keeping oneself as stress-free as possible – therefore physically and emotionally healthier. Consider adding a little lentil into your diet to aid in your de-stressing endeavor. Keep calm, and lentil on!