You have the power to change your life by making small changes in your daily life. These small changes become habits and can eventually improve your overall mental and physical health. Your lifestyle is in your control and eating a diet plentiful in vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains is a great starting point in naturally reducing your stress and anxiety-related symptoms.
Stress and anxiety are the most common mental ailments in the United States. Both stress and anxiety are strongly linked to increased levels of inflammation within your body, and increased inflammation is known to compromise your immune system, which leaves you physically vulnerable to catching diseases. Therefore learning to maintain and manage your mental health to prevent your physical health from falling apart and vice versa is a good idea.
Over 40 million adults or 18% of the population in the U.S. struggle with stress and anxiety every year.
Both anxiety and stress are directly and indirectly related to one another which makes it plausible to treat them simultaneously in certain cases. In this article we’ll discuss how you can incorporate specific foods into your daily diet to reduce your anxious and stressful symptoms.
Along with staying hydrated, you need to focus on a healthy and well-balanced diet. A good diet should include whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, and fruits. You should actively avoid processed foods and simple carbohydrates as much as you can. Processed foods drastically reduce your blood sugar, which can increase your anxiety symptoms.
Promoting an anti-anxiety diet
Many adults struggle with their mental health, chronic anxiety being a big culprit. The common side effects of anxiety include regular experiences of fear, tension, and irritability, difficulty managing personal and work relationships and difficulty concentrating.
For example omega-3, found in fatty fishes, can naturally decrease your anxiety while simultaneously improving your cognitive abilities. However unless you’re an pescitarian, fish isn’t really an option. Alternative plant sources of omega-3 can be found in algae, leafy greens and walnuts to name a few.
If you’re a pescitarian, a great fatty fish to start with is either salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, or herring, all of which are high in omega-3. Most of these fish dishes are easy to prepare and offer many nutritional benefits to both your mental and physical health. Some doctors recommend eating at least two servings of fatty fish a week.
Incorporating probiotics into your daily diet is also extremely beneficial to your gut health and the health of your stomach is a big factor when it comes to chronic stress and anxiety. Moreover over 95% of your serotonin receptors are found in the lining of your gut. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that can relieve your depression, stress, and social anxiety symptoms. Some great probiotics rich foods include:
A great vegetable you can eat consistently is asparagus, which is a healthy vegetable that has natural anti-anxiety components. You can also incorporate more avocado and almonds to your diet. These are vitamin B rich foods. These foods help release dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters that help you feel safe and comfortable, which is the first step in helping to manage your anxiety and stress.
Summary: Consume more foods that contain omega-3 and probiotics for relieving anxiety.
Consume more antioxidant foods
Some studies have found a correlation between having a lowered total antioxidant state with having increased levels anxiety. This is a good enough reason to start enhancing your diet with foods rich in antioxidants.
Tumeric and ginger are spices that have active elements of curcumin. Curcumin helps naturally lower your anxiety by reducing the inflammation and oxidative stress that are found in mood disorders. Because tumeric and ginger reduce your inflammation, your mental and physical anxiety and stress can significantly lower over time.
Foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants include:
- Dried small red, red kidney, black, pinto
- Prunes, plums, apples, sweet cherries
- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries
- Pecans and walnuts
- Kale, spinach, broccoli, beets, artichokes
Brazil nuts help improve your mood by reducing inflammation. Increased inflammation is often an indication of anxiety. Brazil nuts contain a healthy element, Selenium, which is also an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage. Brazil nuts are also great sources of Vitamin E. Vitamin is an antioxidant that helps treat your anxiety and depression.
Summary: Antioxidants are important when it comes to maintaing stress and anxiety levels. Fruits, berries, nuts and seeds are great sources of anti-oxidants.
The importance of vitamins
The levels of vitamins are increasingly linked to mood disorders. For example, stress and anxiety are significantly affected by vitamin D deficiency. If you are suffering from a continual low mood you need to see a physician and check your levels.
More often than not, you are running low on vitamin D, especially during the winter. Your mood can potentially improve with a healthy daily dose of vitamin D, either as supplement or natural sunlight outdoors.
Also, you should eat foods or take supplements rich in vitamins B and E. Both avocados and almonds are rich in vitamin B and E. Both of these vitamins release chemicals that improve your mood, increasing your dopamine and serotonin levels.
Summary: Don’t underestimate the importance of vitamins when it comes to moods and overall energy levels. Get your vitamins naturally or through supplements when necessary and appropriate..
The value of tea
Both chamomile and green tea have fantastic healing and calming properties that you can benefit from. You can easily add one or two cups of green or chamomile tea to your daily liquid intake. Chamomile tea is useful in helping to manage anxiety because of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and relaxant properties.
Chamomile has anti-anxiety properties that reduce stress but do not prevent new episodes from occurring. Chamomile can help you cope and manage your symptoms more effectively.
Green tea is another great option of tea you can use to decrease your anxiety and stress naturally. Green tea contains a naturally occurring amino acid called theanine. Theanine has shown to produce calming effects on your body, which also relaxes your mind. Your serotonin and dopamine levels also naturally increase by ingesting green tea regularly.
Green and chamomile tea are easily adjustable and portable sources of healthy positivity in a cup. This is a preferred option over soft drinks, coffee, or alcohol which can increase your anxiety symptoms.
Summary: Green tea and certain herbal teas like chamomile are great for relieving stress and anxiety naturally. Try different teas until you find one that feels best.
Why healthy eating matters
It is not possible to eat perfectly every day, but you can prioritize your health and make smart choices to improve your mental health, which helps your physical health at the same time. Smart choices do not have to chain you to eating only a small subset of foods, but once you start noticing a significant improvement you’ll most likely want to maintain your changes.
Sugar is a common food choice when you are emotionally compromised, but it does not solve your problems. Sugar increases stress and anxiety due to the dramatic blood sugar drop which comes later.
You can help train your mind to positively react to your changes through food. Creating healthy food habits immediately impacts your body. The food choices you make directly affect how your brain functions and reacts to stress.
By training your body to have enough energy and strength to power through difficult moments is a great way to not only protect your mind but cherish your body at the same time. Do not take for granted your mental and physical health.
-  Omega 3 and its various benefits: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110190/
-  Anti-oxidants for depression and anxiety: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3964743/