Anxiety shows up in all kinds of ways. One consistency with anxiety is that nearly 300 million people worldwide experience an anxiety-ridden disorder before.
This can range from panic attacks, panic disorder, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, and more. That number only includes reported cases.
So where does food come into play? Nutritional psychiatry is growing, and for good reason. The food you eat can play a major role in your anxiety.
Anxiety can occur from a chemical imbalance in the brain, (1) and one factor that can lead to an imbalance in the body is nutrient deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals like magnesium, B vitamins, antioxidants, and more are tightly correlated to brain health and anxiety. (2)
There are many lifestyle factors to consider when it comes to anxiety, too. Environmental concerns, relationship issues, and much more can contribute to anxiety. Many foods can contribute to anxiety, too.
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Foods that Help Reduce Anxiety
There are luckily many foods that can help to relieve anxiety as well. Find out the top foods that help with anxiety and see if you can find a way around your anxiety more often with food.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish can be a helpful addition to an overall healthy diet, but it can be especially helpful for those who suffer from anxiety.
Examples of fatty fish include trout, mackerel, sardines, salmon, and more. Fatty fish are extremely high in omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which play a huge role in cognitive function. The better your cognitive function is, the lower your anxiety can be.
These fish are also highly anti-inflammatory, which helps with many functions throughout the body, along with improving anxiety in many. Fish are also high in essential B vitamins, which are necessary for cognitive health. Add some more of these fish to your diet whenever you can, especially if you suffer from anxiety.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, vitamin A, and more. Adding eggs to your diet can be a great food to reduce the anxiety level for this reason.
This protein-rich breakfast staple is an easy way to get your vitamin levels up, without negatively affecting your health. Remember to eat the egg white and the egg yolk to get all the nutrition out of them. Egg yolks contain most of the nutrition, while the egg white only contains the protein.
Add some eggs to your diet at breakfast, lunch, or enjoy some eggs for dinner to get more nutrition and lessen anxiety.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Many nuts and seeds can help to alleviate anxiety. A few that are especially potent include chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and brazil nuts. These three are particularly high in key nutrients to not only decrease anxiety but boost the immune system and ward off viruses, too.
Pumpkin seeds are high in healthy fats, magnesium, and zinc, which are all necessary to calm down the mind and body. They are high in antioxidants and many other vitamins that are vital in proper functioning in the body as well.
Chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and because of all that, they can drastically reduce inflammation in the body. Brazil nuts are a highly nutritious source of selenium, zinc, and more. Even just one brazil nut contains a day’s worth of selenium. Add some more nuts and seeds to your diet to reap all the many benefits.
4. Turkey and Lean Meat
Turkey is particularly high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is necessary to create proper serotonin levels in the brain.
Serotonin is present throughout the digestive system and the central nervous system. Many antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. But you can get more serotonin in your diet as well. You can do this by increasing foods high in tryptophan like turkey and lean meats.
Choose lean meats like turkey, chicken, lamb, beef, and make sure they are grass-fed when you can. That limits the number of hormones and antibiotics you will get.
Cinnamon contains natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it can help to improve blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity.
When your blood sugar levels are unstable, fatigue and anxiety can easily set in. The body needs a proper balance of blood sugar as well as vitamins and minerals to work efficiently.
Sprinkle some cinnamon in your coffee, tea, oatmeal, cereal, or even in a healthier version of homemade cookies or muffins. It will give you the next snack or meal a great new flavor, too.
Turmeric is a spice originally from India. It dates to over 4000 years ago in Indian cuisine.
It is also a medicinal ayurvedic ingredient that is present in many homeopathic remedies. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice that can be an easy part of your diet.
The anti-inflammatory properties can directly impact anxiety levels. This spice contains a compound called curcumin, which can have potent effects against anxiety.
Add some turmeric to your next meal for extra color and flavoring, to your favorite smoothie, to a traditional golden milk latte, and much more. It adds a hint of flavor and coloring like no other spice around.
7. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushroom is not a common mushroom in cuisine, but it can have potential benefits against anxiety and building your immune system.
Although reishi mushroom is not in your typical grocery stores, you can buy it in powder form easily. This mushroom has a naturally calming effect because of the compounds in it. It can significantly decrease oxidative stress in the body as well.
Mushrooms are naturally high in vitamin D, too. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, that is technically a hormone, that also plays a role in regulating overall health and stability in the body. Add some reishi mushroom to replace your tea or coffee and see how it can help you relax more.
8. Leafy Greens
Spinach and swiss chard are the front-runners for leafy greens that can help with anxiety. That is because they are both extremely high in magnesium.
Over 50 percent of the population has some type of magnesium deficiency, and magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. One important reaction is to relax blood vessels and to ease anxiety.
Spinach and swiss chard are the highest in magnesium, but other leafy greens can be beneficial as well. Add some kale, bok choy, dandelion greens, and more to get your fill of nutritious vegetables to help you calm your body and mind.
9. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is full of healthy antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. The antioxidants in chocolate can also help to improve blood flow to the brain.
Dark chocolate can help you better adapt to stressful situations because it is also high in magnesium. Another common name for magnesium is the relaxation mineral. So, when you thought your chocolate craving was just about the chocolate, it could also be to relax you.
Add some dark chocolate to your diet to get these benefits. You only need a small square a day to get a healthy dose of relaxation. Aim for dark chocolate that is at least 50 percent dark or higher to get the most health benefits.
Anxiety is a complex issue that can happen for a variety of different reasons, but food intervention shows a promising look at easing anxiety.
Remember to eat a well-balanced healthy diet to ward off anxiety. Always limit or even stop eating foods that are high in unhealthy fats, processed additives, and excess sugars. Choose whole, real foods to prevent and help with anxiety.
Make sure your surroundings and everyday activities are helping your health, rather than counteracting it. Be sure to drink plenty of water, exercise often, and limit your exposure to smoking, alcohol, and negative surroundings.
If you try to change your diet and lifestyle and anxiety still creeps in, speak to a healthcare professional about your options. They can help to figure out the best course of action and to help get to the root cause of your anxiety.