Zen Nutrition: Benefits and Limitations

If you want to improve your state of health and reduce stress levels, you could practice Zen nutrition, a healthy method with high nutritional intake.
Zen Nutrition: Benefits and Limitations
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 21 June, 2022

Zen nutrition proposes an alternative to improve your diet and maintain a good state of long-term health. It could be classified as a spiritual and physical therapy that emphasizes the intake of certain foods to make the body’s physiology work efficiently. We’re going to tell you what it consists of and its potential benefits.

Before starting, it’s important to emphasize that the principles of a good diet are balance and variety. It’s important to ensure that very different products appear on a regular basis in order to maintain an optimal nutritional intake.

Principles of Zen nutrition

One of the basic points of Zen nutrition has to do with the inclusion in the dietary routines of certain foods that can help control stress levels. Among them the following stand out:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Swiss chard
  • Chocolate
  • Infusions

All of them contain quality antioxidants, which are elements that neutralize the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation in the body tissues.

On the other hand, these products could help to reduce the formation of cortisol, a hormone that stimulates inflammatory processes. On a regular basis, it’s found to be high when there’s any alteration in the central nervous system.

In addition, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products are highly recommended. These foods contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has been shown to influence brain function. It can help you obtain good rest and prevent emotional problems.

However, other foodstuffs with high protein content shouldn’t be underestimated. This is the case with meat.

Zen nutrition also recommends this product in the guidelines. It provides proteins of high biological value, with all the essential amino acids and with a good score in terms of digestibility. They’ll be necessary to prevent the development of pathologies that affect lean mass, such as sarcopenia. This is evidenced by research published in Nutrition Research.

Some avocados.
Avocado is added to the zen diet with the aim of regulating chemical processes associated with stress.

Benefits of zen nutrition

The implementation of zen nutrition can create a series of health benefits. First of all, it should be noted that it’s a diet based on variety, but giving priority to the consumption of fresh foods. Thanks to this, the risk of experiencing chronic pathologies is reduced.

On the other hand, it’s important to note that the antioxidant content should be optimal. These elements have been related to a lower incidence of diseases, as confirmed by a study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. This can delay aging processes and organs will experience greater efficiency in performing their functions.

Also, we’re talking about an eating methodology that seeks to connect you with yourself, so it has a spiritual aspect too. The objective is to feel good with oneself and to free oneself from stress and anxious situations that can condition our habits. In order to do this, it’s necessary to consume foods high in tryptophan and B vitamins, but also to show gratitude for the availability of food.

Limitations of the Zen diet

Despite the benefits, the Zen diet also has a number of limitations. For example, it’s an approach that pays little attention to energy balance.

Energy balance is very important in order to avoid increases in body weight that can affect health. An increase in the fat percentage could affect the levels of inflammation in the internal environment.

Likewise, although it promotes the consumption of proteins of high biological value, it doesn’t focus on the achievement of a daily protein minimum. This point is important in order to ensure that physiological processes function correctly. It’s also important to prevent the development of muscle-related problems.

Neither should we forget that our health isn’t only conditioned by diet. Many other factors can have an influence.

A woman eating a salad.
Zen nutrition advocates a spiritual connection with the act of eating, in a way that goes beyond mere physical intake.

Zen nutrition is a healthy approach

This so-called Zen nutrition is committed to the inclusion of fresh and quality food in the diet, which can create several health benefits. It also proposes a connection with the internal environment to reduce stress levels.

However, it’s an approach that may not be valid for everyone, despite its positive points. One of the keys in nutrition is to individualize as much as possible to achieve adherence.

Before concluding, it should be noted that it isn’t only the foods consumed in our diets that matter. Other factors, such as the cooking methods used, can make a difference. As a general rule, less aggressive cooking methods should be used.

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  • Bravo, R., Matito, S., Cubero, J., Paredes, S. D., Franco, L., Rivero, M., Rodríguez, A. B., & Barriga, C. (2013). Tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in elderly humans. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)35(4), 1277–1285. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-012-9419-5
  • Naseeb, M. A., & Volpe, S. L. (2017). Protein and exercise in the prevention of sarcopenia and aging. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.)40, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2017.01.001
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