We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” Science is now showing the connection between nutrition and mental health. What we eat can either contribute to or help ease anxiety. Similarly, when we feel anxious – our food decisions can be impacted. Follow these steps to improve your symptoms and your mood.
EAT PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST
Having protein with breakfast can help you stabilize your blood sugar so you have more energy throughout the day. Protein can also help you feel fuller longer. Protein-rich foods include eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, pork, beef, tofu, beans.
CHOOSE COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES.
Carbohydrates may increase serotonin in your brain. This neurotransmitter has a calming effect. Choose foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, wild rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain sprouted bread.
INCREASE YOUR WATER INTAKE.
Dehydration can affect mental status and mood. Keep a water bottle on your desk or in your bag as a reminder to drink up!
MIND YOUR MINERALS.
Incorporate high magnesium foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens such as swiss chard, spinach, and kale. Foods rich in zinc, such as cashews, grass-fed beef, egg yolks, and oysters, have been linked to lower anxiety.
INCLUDE PROBIOTIC-RICH FOODS.
Probiotics are essential for a healthy gut microbiome. Studies show that fermented foods that contain probiotics protect against social anxiety. Include probiotic-rich foods such as kefir, kombucha, organic sauerkraut and kimchi.
CHOOSE OMEGA-3 RICH FOODS.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce anxiety as well as improve depression. Include flax seeds, chia seeds, and wild-caught fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon.
LIMIT / AVOID CAFFEINE & ALCOHOL:
Caffeine can make you feel jittery and nervous, interfere with sleep, and dehydrate you. Excessive caffeine intake can fatigue your adrenal glands and elevate the stress hormone cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is associated with other health problems such as high blood pressure, IBS, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and Crohn’s disease. Drinking can seem like an excellent way to calm your nerves, but in reality, it causes spikes and dips in blood sugar, dehydrates you, and causes impaired brain function—all of which can lead to anxious feelings, which then make you want to drink more, creating a vicious cycle.
INCLUDE ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS:
A lowered total antioxidant state is thought to be correlated with anxiety. Including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet may help relieve some anxiety symptoms.
- Fruits Apples (Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious), prunes, sweet cherries, plums, black plums)
- Berries Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries
- Beans Pinto, red kidney
- Nuts Walnuts, pecans
- Vegetable Artichokes, kale, spinach, beets, broccoli
- Spices Turmeric and ginger
PAY ATTENTION TO FOOD SENSITIVITIES.
Certain foods or additives can cause adverse physical and mental reactions. A good was to ease your anxiety with nutrition is to pay attention to how different foods affect your mood, energy, and physical state. Common food sensitivities include dairy, gluten, caffeine, eggs, MSG, aspartame, sulfites, fructose, food colors, and sugar alcohols. Sensitivities usually result in bloating, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, runny nose, nausea, rashes, reflux, or flushing of the skin.