From social anxiety to PTSD, anxiety disorders affect almost 20% of the adult population in the U.S., and research suggests that almost 30% of American adults will suffer from some type of anxiety at some point in their lives. In addition, even more people will experience heightened stress levels, often for a prolonged period, even if they do not qualify for an official anxiety diagnosis.
Lots of people who struggle with anxiety will be prescribed medications to help them manage it; however, the problem with many antianxiety drugs that are prescribed today is that they only mask the symptoms, rather than address the root cause. Because of this, many patients who are given pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety will often find that they don’t like them for several reasons; sometimes this could be due to the various common side effects, or simply because they are not keen on the idea of never actually addressing the root cause of their issue.
So, whether you are currently taking antianxiety medications or not, it’s important to understand that this isn’t your only option. In fact, there have been many success stories to suggest that since the body and mind is interconnected, looking after yourself by exercising more and eating a healthier, more balanced diet can help to combat the symptoms of anxiety disorders. We’ve compiled a list of stress and anxiety-busting foods and drinks to add to your diet, to help you regain your control and calm.
#1. Chamomile Tea:
Known as ‘nature’s sleeping pill’, chamomile tea is great to sip on whenever you’re feeling highly strung and stressed out; it has a natural calming and relaxing effect that will help to decrease your anxiety symptoms and soothe a racing mind. In addition, it’s not uncommon for anxiety sufferers to also have sleep problems; it can be difficult to easily fall asleep at night when you are lay awake worrying about several different things. Chamomile tea is a natural sedative, therefore it’s good to drink a cup before bed as this will help you to get into a more relaxed state, making it easier for you to enjoy a deep and restful sleep.
If you’ve ever wondered why you feel so tired and relaxed after eating your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, then it’s all down to the turkey. Turkey contains a substance known as tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain which helps you to feel calmer and more relaxed. Serotonin is associated with both anxiety and depressive disorders; increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain or inhibiting the reuptake is how many commonly prescribed antidepressant and antianxiety medications work to relieve the symptoms. Studies have shown that when it is consumed in meat form, tryptophan is effective for reducing the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
If you are a fan of avocado on toast, then it’s not just the great taste that you can enjoy. Avocados are certainly a super fruit, and this popular food is not just great for your skin, muscles, hair and nails – it also contains a range of nutrients which can work wonders for your brain and psychological health. Avocados are a natural source of potassium, which naturally helps to lower a high blood pressure. In turn, this can help with panic attacks and help to keep your heart rate steady, all of which contributes to feeling calmer and more in control over stressful situations. In addition, avocados are also a great source of B vitamins, along with heathy, monounsaturated fats that are necessary for optimal brain health and for the correct functioning of neurotransmitters.
#4. Leafy Greens:
Salads filled with leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, and bok choi are great for reducing the symptoms of high stress levels and anxiety. Plant-based, green foods are very nutrient-rich and filled with essential antioxidants that are needed for optimal brain health and function. They are also one of the best natural sources of magnesium, which is known for being able to help chill you out naturally and regain your calm in stressful situations. Magnesium is also necessary for helping to regulate the brain-adrenal axis, which plays an important part in stress and mood. For extra good results, you can season your salads with the incredibly protein-rich hemp oil or seeds for optimal brain and physical health.
#5. Dark Chocolate:
If you are a chocolate lover who’s looking for a natural way to control your anxiety, then you are in luck. Dark chocolate has gotten a lot of press lately for its range of great health benefits; unlike the more popular milk and white chocolates, dark chocolate contains more natural cocoa than other unhealthy ingredients commonly associated with this food, such as sugar, milk, and saturated fats. Research found that people who consumed a dark chocolate drink that was equivalent to around 1.5oz of dark chocolate per day reported feeling much calmer and less stressed than those who did not. So, if you’re looking for a guilt-free excuse to eat more chocolate, this is it!
When it comes to seasoning your food, the herbs and spices that you choose can all have an effect on both your physical and mental health. Turmeric has a massive range of health benefits; there are many things that it can help with including faster wound healing, easing stiff and aching joints, supporting digestion by strengthening the stomach lining, balancing blood sugar levels, and even aiding in weight loss. Along with this, studies have shown that turmeric has plentiful beneficial effects when it comes to easing the symptoms of both major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Although it is more likely to be associated with relieving the symptoms of depression, bear in mind that depressive and anxiety disorders are often closely linked; treatments that work for one are often used just as effectively for the other.
You’ve probably heard a lot about asparagus in terms of it being an aphrodisiac, however, it’s not just your libido that can get a boost from eating this tasty vegetable. Rich in sulfur and many other vitamins and minerals, asparagus also contains essential B vitamins such as folic acid, which is linked to an impairment of the neurotransmitters when levels in the body are low. By improving your intake of foods that contain folic acid, you can reduce the symptoms of anxiety by improving the function and health of the neurotransmitters in your brain. In addition, asparagus is also a good source of potassium, which can help to lower blood pressure levels and in turn decrease the risk of anxiety or panic attacks.
#8. Organ Meats:
If you are a meat-eater, then organ meats such as liver and kidneys are some of the best nutrient sources to choose from when it comes to controlling anxiety with your diet. Organ meats contain some of the most essential nutrients for our brains, such as vitamin D and zinc, both of which have been linked to mood and stress, along with being essential for good physical health. Organ meats are also a very rich source of choline, which is necessary for synthesizing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, resulting in improved mood and a better ability to cope with stressors.
Organ meats such as liver are also filled with essential B vitamins, which are not only great for your physical health and appearance, but will also improve energy and fight fatigue, giving you more strength to deal with stressful and anxiety-inducing situations. B vitamins are also necessary for methylation, which is a natural metabolic process in the body which is responsible for the synthesis of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
If you feel like treating yourself to a lavish meal at a 5* restaurant, then it’s worth seeing if oysters are on the menu. Oysters are well-known as a ‘superfood of the sea’, and along with being a tasty and luxurious treat, they also contain a huge range of essential minerals that your brain needs to function correctly, such as zinc. Since a decrease in zinc levels in the body can cause anxiety, especially when coupled with an increase in copper, oysters are an excellent choice of food. Eating them will help to naturally increase your zinc levels and help to balance stress.
#10. Full-Fat Kefir:
Kefir is an ancient fermented dairy drink and a very powerful probiotic that can help to balance bacteria in your gut, leading to a healthier digestive system. In addition, the gut is also known in functional medicine as being ‘the second brain’; it is home to more than one hundred million neurons and 95% of the ‘feel good’ hormones that your body produces, such as serotonin.
So, improving the health of your gut will also have a positive effect on your brain, meaning that it’s essential for effectively dealing with anxiety. Kefir is well-known as being one of the most powerful probiotic drinks, and includes a range of essential, fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D and K12 which are all essential for proper brain health.
Do you eat any of these foods regularly? Let us know in the comments.