Stress, it's something we deal with on a daily basis. Some of us take it all in stride, others let it build up to the breaking point.

Our emotional condition can create harmful physical effects on our bodies, including digestive problems, ulcers, fluctuations in weight, lack of concentration and memory loss. Stress (and other related anxiety issues) are connected to our mood, our food cravings and fat storage. Learning effective ways to change our thought patterns and maximize our health are beneficial ways to combat complications of stress without medication.

Simply attempting to enhance your health by optimizing nutrition and exercising will help you feel better and boost your mood. Good nutrition maximizes energy, stabilizes blood sugar and hormone levels, minimizes cravings and improves concentration. Here are a few tips to improved health:

Foods that Cause Stress: Some of the food items that are commonly known to cause stress are as follows:

Caffeine: This is commonly found in coffee, tea, colas and chocolates. Caffeine increases stress levels by stimulating the central nervous system. Excess intake of caffeine will result in hyperactive mood and cause irritation and stress. Excessive amounts of caffeine can lead to an increase in the body's stress response and cause anxiety and disrupt sleep. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams per day (one cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams;

Alcohol: Alcohol, if taken in large doses, disrupts sleep and thinking clearly.

Sugar: Sugar may be sweet to taste, but it won't be very sweet for the body. It quickly raises your energy levels in the body for a short-period. But the ultimate effect is negative causing a drastic drop in blood sugar leading to fatigue and anxiety.

Foods That Combat Stress:

Certain foods can help the body to control stress. Here are some foods that help you feel better during stress:

---Include vitamin C in your diet to help reduce cortisol levels. Food sources are citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi and dark greens, to name a few.

---Consume foods that trigger the release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Protein foods, particularly turkey and chicken, contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin levels. ---Vitamin D also enhances serotonin production (10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure on bare skin three to four times per week is sufficient). Food sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, egg yolks and fortified whole-grain cereals.

---Emphasize Omega 3 polyunsaturated fat to help regulate mood by boosting serotonin levels. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. If you don't consume a lot of fish, an Ultimate Omega fish oil supplement twice a day is sufficient.

---Mix high-quality carbohydrates, such as beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with lean sources of protein. Good carbohydrates help convert tryptophan (in protein foods) into serotonin in the brain (this is why many feel cranky and fatigued on low-carb diets!).

---Include folic acid and vitamin B12 to help relieve depression. Some great sources of folic acid are fruits and vegetables (particularly dark greens), sunflower seeds and beans. Vitamin B12 foods include shellfish, fortified whole-grain cereals, beef, eggs and cottage cheese.

---Have a Cup of Chamomile Tea – Chamomile has a long history of use for insomnia, relaxation, and anxiety. It can also help treat indigestion and nausea. Enjoy a cup at bedtime.

Lastly, its not food but its good for you and makes you feel good… Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins that combat the inflammatory stress hormone, cortisol (increased cortisol levels also contribute to excess body fat, particularly in the abdominal area). Exercise also increases blood flow so that the brain receives more oxygen, which improves function. Any type of workout that you enjoy and that fits easily into your daily routine will be most effective long-term.