How to Handle Anxiety – Best Foods to Eat to Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the common mental health issues across the world. In the United States, around 18% of the population struggles with an anxiety disorder (Source). So, now the question is how to stop anxiety? Some studies suggest that proper nutrition can help in improving the symptoms. Here is an article with the best foods for anxiety.
Apart from medication, various strategies can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Moreover, some foods can lower the severity of symptoms. However, before exploring anti-anxiety foods, let’s have a look at anxiety, its causes, and basic symptoms.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural response of our body to stress. It is associated with feelings of apprehension or fear about the future. Moreover, it is a reaction to situations that are perceived as dangerous or stressful.
The disorder is characterized by constant nervousness and worry, and in some cases, it is associated with poor mental health.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Restlessness, nervousness, or being tense
- Hyperventilation or rapid breathing
- The feeling of dread, panic, or danger
- Heavy sweating or trembling
- Lethargy or weakness
- Obsession about specific ideas
- Performing specific behaviors repetitively
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Muscle twitching or trembling
Causes of Anxiety
The exact causes of anxiety are not known yet. However, it is believed that some traumatic experiences and conditions can trigger anxiety in individuals prone to it.
Genetics also play an essential role in anxiety. In certain cases, anxiety is also triggered by underlying health issues, and it could be a sign of mental illness.
Best Foods for Anxiety
Though there are no magical foods that can cure anxiety or depression, some foods can reduce the severity of symptoms. Below mentioned are some best foods for anxiety.
Brazil nuts are loaded with selenium, which is highly beneficial to enhance mood by lowering inflammation. Anxiety and mood disorders can cause heightened levels of inflammation, and brazil nuts help in reducing it.
Selenium is an antioxidant, which is good for preventing cell damage. Moreover, it is an anti-carcinogenic that helps in preventing cancer from developing.
Animal products, other nuts, and vegetables like soybeans and mushrooms are rich sources of selenium.
Pro Tip – Do not consume too much selenium as it can lead to side effects.
Various studies present evidence that dark chocolate can help in reducing anxiety and stress. Moreover, cocoa and dark chocolate can also enhance mood (Source).
It is unclear how dark chocolates help to reduce stress, but it is rich in polyphenols and especially flavonoids. Some studies show that flavonoids help in reducing cell death in brain neuroinflammation. Moreover, it is associated with enhancing blood flow.
Chocolates are rich in tryptophan content. Our body uses tryptophan to turn on the serotonin in the brain, which is mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. Moreover, chocolates are also rich in magnesium, which helps in reducing the symptoms of depression.
Eggs are a good source of vitamin D and are rich in protein. In addition to this, they are complete proteins, which means that they contain all the amino acids which our body requires for growth and development.
In addition to this, eggs are also rich in tryptophan, which helps in creating serotonin. As mentioned earlier, serotonin helps in regulating behavior, mood, sleep, and memory. Serotonin is also good to relieve anxiety and enhance brain function.
Fatty fish like trout, sardines, mackerel, herring, and salmon are rich in with omega-3. It is a fatty acid and is good for mental health and cognitive function.
Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and also contain alpha-linolenic acid render two essential fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Both of these essential fatty acids are responsible for regulating neurotransmitters, encourage healthy brain function, and reduce inflammation.
Fatty fish like sardines and salmon are also a rich source of vitamin D. Deficiency of vitamin D can cause mood disorders like anxiety and depression, which makes it the best food for anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best answers to the question, what foods help with anxiety. They are loaded with potassium, which helps in managing blood pressure and regulating electrolyte balance. Moreover, they are also one of the best iron-rich foods.
Consuming foods rich in potassium can help in reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress. Moreover, pumpkin seeds are also rich in the mineral zinc. It is essential for nerve and brain development. The largest sites responsible for the storage of zinc in the body are located in regions associated with emotions.
Chamomile tea has antibacterial, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and relaxant properties. Due to this reason, many people across the globe use it as a herbal remedy.
Some people believe that the anti-anxiety properties in chamomile are associated with flavonoids present in it. Additionally, chamomile is highly beneficial to reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, it is not effective to prevent new episodes of anxiety.
Chamomile tea is highly beneficial to manage anxiety and is safe to use in high doses. Due to these properties, it foods that reduce anxiety. Moreover, it is one of the best sleep-inducing foods. It has the ability to enhance sleep efforts, which in turn helps in having a good sleep.
There is a wide range of health benefits of green tea in the morning. It is a rich source of an amino acid namely theanine. It has amazing effects on mood disorders. In addition to this, theanine also has calming and anti-anxiety effects.
Theanine also helps in increasing the production of dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine plays an essential role in how our body feels pleasure.
Moreover, theanine helps in enhancing calmness and self-reported relaxations while reducing tension.
It is a good idea to add green tea to your everyday diet. Moreover, it is a perfect replacement for coffee, alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks.
Pro Tip – Too much production of dopamine can cause serious health issues like schizophrenia and hallucination.
Turmeric is a spice popular in South-East Asian and Indian cooking. It is one of the best foods for anxiety. They contain an active ingredient called curcumin. Additionally, this ingredient is highly beneficial to reduce lower anxiety by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation.
Oxidative stress often increases in individuals experiencing mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Moreover, curcumin is also helpful in reducing anxiety in obese adults (Source). An increase of curcumin in the diet also helps to increase DHA and reduce anxiety.
Turmeric also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which helps in relieving the symptoms of anxiety. This anti-anxiety food has a minimal flavor, which makes it easy to add in dishes and curries.
Yogurt is another popular food good for anxiety. It contains good bacteria: Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. These bacteria help in managing good brain health as they have positive effects on our brains.
Some studies present evidence that dairy products like yogurt are good to produce anti-inflammatory effects in our body (Source). Moreover, according to some studies, chronic inflammation might contribute to stress, depression, and anxiety.
Fermented foods help in reducing social anxiety, and consuming good bacteria is also helpful to increase happiness.
In addition to this, including yogurt in your diet can be beneficial for the natural gut bacteria and might reduce stress and anxiety. Fermented foods like kimchi, cheese, and sauerkraut are highly beneficial to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
Cherries are rich in antioxidants like quercetin, which helps to encourage feelings of calmness. Consuming more fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Moreover, it also helps in increasing happiness levels.
Some studies present evidence that consuming five or more cherries can help boost your mood, which makes them fall in the list of foods good for anxiety.
Other Anti-Anxiety Foods
Consuming a balanced diet with nutrient-dense and high-quality fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Below mentioned are some of the other best foods for anxiety.
- Turkey, Oats, and Banana – They are loaded with amino acid tryptophan, which promotes relaxation and helps in releasing anxiety.
- Chia Seeds – They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps in reducing anxiety and promoting good brain health.
- Almonds – They are rich in vitamin E, which helps in preventing anxiety.
- Dairy Products and Meat – These products are rich in high-quality protein containing essential amino acids, which helps in product serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are the potential to enhance mental health.
- Citrus Fruits – They are rich in vitamin C. It has antioxidant properties that are good to reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage.
- Blueberries – Blueberries are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, which are good to improve brain health and reduce anxiety.
If you often face anxiety, it would be highly beneficial to make some positive lifestyle changes. Practicing mindful meditation and consuming the best foods for anxiety can help in reducing the severity of anxiety symptoms. Anti-anxiety foods might also help to boost brain health and reduce inflammation. If you know other remedies to deal with anxiety, share with us by dropping a comment.