Your diet plays an important role in reducing anxiety. While some foods can trigger your anxiety, some can help you reduce it, serving as the perfect platter of natural anxiety relief. (Pardon the pun). There is an abundance of delicious and nutritious foods that offer a vast array of healing properties that can positively affect your mood, anxiety and overall mental health. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat,” so let’s find out what that should be. Today we will discuss some science-backed foods that reduce anxiety.
Eat These Foods to Reduce Anxiety
Eating a balanced diet is one of the keys to overall well-being. You might not believe it but diet plays an important role in reducing anxiety. Studies show that different foods have different effects on your mental and physical health. While some foods can trigger your anxiety, some can actually help you reduce it, making you feel calmer. If any of these foods that reduce anxiety don’t appeal to your appetite, you can always grab them in a natural supplement form or as natural herbs for anxiety.
Omega 3 rich foods
Having a deficiency in omega 3 can cause fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor blood circulation. Omega 3 are essential fatty acids found both in plants and animal. These fatty acids have proven to be beneficial in boosting brain health, improving eye health, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and reducing anxiety. Since, human body is incapable of making these acids on its own, you must get it from your diet or supplements.
Food High in Omega 3
- Fatty Fish – Salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring
- Seeds and nuts – Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds
- Algae (seaweed, spirulina, chlorella)
- Kidney beans
A long day at work or a busy day at home with kids can leave you exhausted and stressed. A cosy cup of chamomile tea and some rest can calm down your stress hormones, and help in reducing anxiety. Chamomile is one of the most ancient herbs known for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing properties. Apart from relieving stress and anxiety, chamomile tea also aids in better digestion after a big meal, better sleep, and relieves menstrual pain.
You can easily find chamomile tea online or in any grocery store near your home. It has also been regarded as safe to consume in a high amount. So, swap your morning or evening coffee (an anxiety trigger) with therapeutic chamomile tea to help fight anxiety and relieve stress.
To all the chocolate lovers, you can munch on your chocolate now, guilt-free. Research has shown that flavonoids found in dark chocolate can help in reducing anxiety and improving mood. Flavonoids are plant compounds that act as an antioxidant. It helps in improving blood flow to the brain as well as reducing neuroinflammation.
Chocolate also contains magnesium (important element in supporting muscle, nerve function and energy production) which helps in reducing anxiety. The comforting taste of chocolate also acts as a stress minimizer that explains why most females like to eat chocolate while menstruating. As much as you love chocolate, remember not to go overboard with it as it is packed with sugar and calories. Opt for 70% or more dark chocolate and have it in moderation to satisfy your sweet tooth.
In the gut microbiome, the probiotics (good bacteria) do more than just help with digestion. They help keep your “bad” bacteria in check. According to research, an unhealthy gut may be linked with an unhealthy mental state. If you frequently experience stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn, that means you most likely have an unhealthy gut.
To improve your gut health, you have to add probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are considered effective in improving mental health disorders like anxiety. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt, cultured milk, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, etc. and can also be used as a natural supplement. Moreover, probiotic foods like yogurt can help in boosting mood and reducing inflammation linked to anxiety. Even though all yogurt has probiotics, it’s best to have plain or Greek yogurt instead of flavoured one high in refined sugar.
You can consume yogurt mixed with berries in the breakfast to get both probiotics and vitamin c to kickstart your day with a healthy gut and healthy brain. Other foods that are high in probiotics are kefir, pickles, cheese, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
If you aren’t aware of what turmeric is, it is a famous Indian herb with several health benefits, like improving heart health, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, fighting cancer, depression, and even anxiety. The research done in 2015 found turmeric effective in reducing anxiety in adults. Turmeric contains an active compound “curcumin”. Curcumin has been scientifically proven to improve brain health and aid in reducing anxiety. It helps prevent damage to brain cells and nerves by reducing inflammation that is usually high in anxiety patients.
Some people might not like the earthy and a bit bitter taste of turmeric. So, the best way to consume it is along with other foods. You can add a teaspoon of turmeric to your smoothies or soups. It is better to consume turmeric with black pepper to help in its absorption into the body.
Eat your greens, everyone! A bowl of green might look unappetizing to most people but the dark leafy greens are loaded with antioxidants and a bunch of vitamins (C, E, K, A, B) that can help in reducing anxiety and lifting mood. The compound “chlorophyll” found in green vegetables helps in increasing our tolerance level to oxidative stress. Hence, helping in fighting anxiety. Dark greens are often regarded as Superfoods and can be consumed in many ways. Chop them to make a salad bowl, add them to the sandwich or make a nutrient-packed smoothie. The choice is all yours!
Dark Leafy Greens To Add Into Your Diet
- collard greens
- bok choy
- mustard greens
Who doesn’t like a cup of green tea at night to unwind and relax? Green tea contains an amino acid “L-theanine” that’s has been regarded as effective in reducing anxiety and calming stress. Green tea also helps in digestion, weight loss, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes. L-theanine increases levels of dopamine (feel-good hormone) GABA (a brain relaxant), and serotonin (mood stabilizer) in the parts of the brain. Green tea also has epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that is an antioxidant that promotes brain health. You can take green tea after a meal for better digestion or before going to bed for quality sleep.
Now, don’t expect that eating these foods will magically cure your anxiety within a week. No food can cure anxiety entirely. However, it can help you manage it or reduce the severity of its symptoms. Building a healthy lifestyle takes patience, practice and discipline so, don’t beat yourself for failing to adhere to a healthy diet. When things feel overwhelming, remember, one thought at a time, one task at a time, and one day at a time. If necessary, seek professional help.
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