Can your meals be more than just a delicious coming together or fine ingredients? Can it help prevent depression and relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety? Experts say YES and it’s not a secret recipe hidden away in grandma’s cupboard.
Your diet can play a key role in influencing many of your bodily systems. The foods you eat can trigger chemical reactions and neurological responses that can either trigger feelings of extreme stress or even mimic the experience of an anxiety attack. There’s a reason why clinical experts have a long list of junk foods and good foods and if you’re suffering from anxiety it’s worth taking a closer look at this list. A lot of change must be done to help treat your anxiety, but possibly the most and effective and easiest is by simply changing your diet.
‘Eating healthier’ or ‘Eating clean’ are probably buzzwords you’ve heard thrown around quite recently. This new movement towards better eating habits is more than just a fad though, and depending on how attuned you are to the recent dietary trends, you’ll notice that the good and bad food lists are pretty much in agreement across the board. But which food groups should you avoid to help lessen or relieve your anxiety symptoms and what foods will help kick your anxiety to the curb?
Foods to Avoid.
It’s not surprising to see this at the front of the list. Drinking alcohol is extremely detrimental to the body, it causes dehydration, muscle contractions, hormonal imbalances and the metabolic waste from alcohol can be extremely harmful to healthy brain functioning.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can exacerbate your anxiety symptoms. The uncontrolled consumption of caffeine can cause increased heart rate, shallow breathing and other sensations that can imitate or cause a panic attack Coffee can still be enjoyed, just in careful moderation.
- Dairy Products
Dairy products can cause an increase in adrenaline levels and also cause adrenal fatigue. This can either contribute to an anxious state or stimulate a decreased mood level.
- Fried Foods & Processed Foods
Full of damaged fats, fried foods are difficult for the body to metabolize and offer little to no nutritional value. The increased work it takes to break down these foods takes away from other important functions in your body that overall affect your brain health. Additionally, fried and processed foods can play a huge rule in throwing off your body’s chemical activity and hormonal responses.
- Refined Sugars
Refined sugars found in candy, white breads and other processed foods are just empty carbohydrates, meaning they have no nutrition whatsoever. Ingesting refined sugars can lead to adrenal fatigue and increase your adrenaline, contributing to feelings of anxiety, stress and panic attacks.
Foods to Enjoy.
Fruits are full of micronutrients and antioxidants that are important for overall health. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, cherries, bananas, oranges and apples provide a healthy supply of glucose to provide the brain with a steady energy source and complex molecules that work against cell-damaging free radical oxygen molecules.
- Leafy Greens
Rich green vegetables like kale, swiss chard, spinach and collard greens (to list a few) are full of vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are also rich in fiber which is important for weight loss and maintenance. Leafy greens are also an excellent source of folate, which contributes to the production of serotonin a chemical that can ward off depression and improve mood. As a main rule of thumb, it’s recommended to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables daily (that’s about 2 ½ cups).
- Magnesium Rich Foods
Foods like nuts, leafy greens, avocado, fish, red meat and bananas are rich in magnesium. This natural mineral is essential to bone health, energy production and maintenance of the nervous system. More importantly, it acts as a natural ‘chill pill’ by regulating the brain-adrenal axis.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fats have been shown to decrease anxiety thanks to the role it plays in the control of inflammation. While some amounts of inflammation is necessary to support normal immune function, too much can cause an increased risk of heart disease, obesity and poor brain function such as depression and anxiety. Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be found in nuts, salmon, red meat, soybeans, shrimp, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
- Tryptophan Rich Foods
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that’s essential for general growth and development. It also helps produce serotonin, which is a chemical that helps product healthy sleep and stabilizes your mood. Some tryptophan rich foods include, seeds and nuts like pumpkin and squash, soybeans, turkey, red meat, salmon, cod, and tuna, oats and beans.
- Whole Grains
Not to be confused with whole wheat, whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are good sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals. This healthy combination helps in the control of inflammation, and providing energy and nutrients for the brain. Whole grains like couscous, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice and oats are recommended in moderation.
The Take Away.
If you’ve come this far, you’ll notice from the list of ‘good foods’ that many of the food items listed are recurring. This makes things pretty clear, eat a diet that’s rich in fruit in vegetables, with moderations of whole grains and proteins and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier you.