Can what you eat really help with anxiety?
Short answer: Yes!
Anxiety is a common mental health issue affecting millions of people around the world. Frequently, our first line of defense is medication or therapy, but did you know, the answer may be as simple as the food you eat? Read on to learn about the best foods you can eat to improve your mental health and wellbeing, Mood Foods.
Recommended reading: Mental Health Awareness Month
Plenty of Protein
Too often, we separate our mental health from our physical health, and consider them as two independent issues. However, the food you eat has direct impact on the workings of your brain and the production of mood-lifting and mood-balancing chemicals known as neurotransmitters.
Protein sources such as meat, fish and nuts provide us with amino acids, which the body then converts into neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, the feel-good chemical. Serotonin doesn’t just help manage and lift our moods, it also helps regulate sleep.
Fatty fish such as salmon is a great protein source for those combating anxiety because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health and development at all stages of life. If you are suffering from anxiety or a different mood disorder especially, up your intake of salmon, or supplement!
Recent studies show there is a connection between gut health and mental health. Probiotic-rich foods help to balance the microbiome by boosting levels of good bacteria in our intestines, aiding in digestion, immunity, and is thought to communicate with neurotransmitters in our nervous system.
Try fermented foods like kombucha, miso, pickles and sauerkraut, all of which contain healthy bacteria and live cultures.
Stock Up On Minerals
During your period, when a lot of women experience low moods, cramps and anxiety, foods like berries can help you stock up on vital minerals and antioxidants. Stocking up on good foods will help you have a more healthy and less anxious period.
Magnesium boots serotonin in the brain. As little as 12 almonds can give you 19% of your daily recommended magnesium intake. Other magnesium-rich foods include legumes, seeds, and avocado.
Manage Those Sugar Highs
It’s important to balance your blood sugar by eating well. Eating excessive sugar and subsequent sugar highs and lows can make your mood suffer. Sugar can also cause you to break out and have more painful periods.
Mismanaged blood sugar can easily make you feel anxious and cause you to reach for high-sugar and carbohydrate rich snacks. Make sure each meal you eat has a balance of vegetables, fat and protein allowing you to feel fuller longer (and don’t feel the need to reach for that second, maybe third snack).
Eliminate processed carbs and sugar from your diet as much as you can. Added sugar and alcohol can also trigger anxiety, so limit your alcohol intake and always check labels for sugar.
Cut the Caffeine
Caffeine is often quoted as being good for your, but it certainly doesn’t help anyone with an anxious disposition. Heightened heart rate, sweaty palms; caffeine stimulation can almost sound like the first rumblings of a panic attack.
Beat your caffeine addiction and favor herbal alternatives like Rooibos, peppermint, or lemon and ginger tea instead. Remember that drinking and staying hydrated will help your mind and body function better, so reach for water as often as you can.
Managing your diet and lifestyle whilst suffering from anxiety can be a tough ask, but a few simple tweaks to your habits should help you better manage your mood. Food is a powerful driver for your mind, so use it well.
Hollie Jones is a lifestyle blogger who lives for writing. Her drive, passion and background are rooted in the arts and media sectors. You can read her latest blog posts on Hollie and the Ivy, where she shares tips and advice about her passions while having a lot of fun along the way.