Changing your daily eating habits can ease anxiety, study finds
A new Harvard study has found that one’s diet can greatly quell anxiety
While there are specific types of therapies and medications which can help ease the burden of anxiety, nutritional strategies also play a huge role in treatment.
Dr. Uma Naidoo shared with Harvard Health Publications how dietary advice is an important part of how she helps her patients manage anxiety. Sadly, she shares, only about a third of people with anxiety will seek treatment.
The basic nutritional considerations would be to eat a balanced diet, stay properly hydrated by drinking enough water, and to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption—if not to give it up completely.
An example, Dr. Naidoo cites, is how complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly, evening out blood sugar, creating a calm feeling throughout the body.
She recommends, however, to choose a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and fruits instead of carbohydrates, which are often found in processed foods.
When you eat is just as important as what you eat
Always remember not to skip meals. When you don’t eat regularly, your blood sugar drops which, in turn, may make you jittery and worsen anxiety.
It’s also important to note that the gut-brain axis plays a huge role in influencing a person’s mood and emotional state. This is because about 95% of the stomach and intestine’s lining have serotonin receptors. Studies are delving deeper into the possibility of probiotics treating both anxiety and depression.
Next page: Foods that can help quell anxiety
Certain foods have been found effective in making a person calmer, thereby easing anxiety. Examples of these are…
These include leafy greens such as spinach as well as legumes, nuts, whole grains, and seeds.
Oysters, cashews, beef, and egg yolks are all naturally rich in zinc and have been found effective in easing anxiety.
According to a 2011 study, omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce anxiety. A good example of a nutritious, fatty fish high in Omega-3s is wild Alaskan Salmon.
More anixety-easing foods on the next page
Eating probiotic foods can help lower social anxiety, according to a recent study published in Psychiatric Research. Examples of these are pickles, sauerkraut, asparagus, and kefir.
Also known as “feel good foods”, foods which are high in B vitamins, such as almonds and avocados, stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that manage anxiety.
Upon reviewing the anti-oxidant content of 3,100 foods, beverages, herbs and spices, a study found that these antioxidant-rich foods can help ease anxiety.
- Beans (dried small red, pinto, black, red kidney)
- Fruits (Apples, Prunes, Sweet Cherries, Plums, and Black Plums)
- Berries (Blackberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries)
- Nuts (Walnuts and Pecans)
- Vegetables (Artichokes, Kale, Spinach, Beets, and Broccoli)
- Spices (Turmeric and Ginger, which possess both antioxidant and anti-anxiety properties)
Achieving better mental health through your diet should involve consulting your doctor regularly for best results.
“While nutritional psychiatry is not a substitute for other treatments, the relationship between food, mood, and anxiety is garnering more and more attention. There is a growing body of evidence, and more research is needed to fully understand the role of nutritional psychiatry, or as I prefer to call it, Psycho-Nutrition,” ends Dr. Naidoo.
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