Everyone gets anxious occasionally. After all, anxiety is nothing more than your mind and body’s reaction to circumstances that evoke fear, worry, and doubt. A person might experience anxiety due to an upcoming test, financial overwhelm, meeting new people, or even trying new things. However, anxiety can easily become an overwhelming, consistent event in many people’s lives.
Consequences of Untreated Anxiety
Allowing yourself to remain in “fight or flight” mode for extended periods can significantly affect your health and wellness. It’s important to be aware of signs of anxiety in yourself and others as prolonged anxiety can often lead to high blood pressure, weight fluctuations, appetite changes, sexual performance issues, cognitive decline, and a weakened immune system. Ultimately, if you want to avoid this, you must find an efficient way to reduce anxiety.
Food And Mental Health
There are lots of things you can do to manage anxiety, from seeing a therapist to making lifestyle changes. One suggestion that is often overlooked is being mindful of what you eat. Most people aren’t aware of a deep connection between the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The GI tract acts as your “second brain” and is home to bacteria that influences the production of neurotransmitters or messages sent to your brain. When you consume a healthy diet, the GI sends positive messages to the brain, it can help to improve your mood. However, an unhealthy diet slows production, which negatively alters your emotions. Therefore, the better you eat, the better you will feel.
Foods To Add To Your Diet
Now that you understand how food impacts your mental health let’s look at some healthy options to incorporate into your diet to reduce anxiety.
Getting your daily dose of protein is essential to your health and wellness. Fatty fish is a protein source everyone should include in their diets (unless, of course, you’re allergic to seafood, vegetarian, or vegan). Suggestions include salmon, sardines, trout, herring, and mackerel. These fish types contain Omega-3, which is essential to reducing inflammation, regulating neurotransmitters, and improving brain function.
The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish a week. One serving is approximately three ounces of cooked fish.
Another excellent protein source that’s great for managing anxiety is eggs. The egg yolk is also ideal for vitamin D consumption. Vitamin D, which primarily comes from sun exposure, is essential for balancing emotions. Eggs also contain the necessary amino acids like tryptophan, which helps with the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates emotions and eases anxiety symptoms.
You should try to eat between four and six eggs a week. However, if you have heart conditions or struggle with high cholesterol, talk with your doctor for further instructions.
Here’s an addition to your diet you might appreciate – dark chocolate. Although most studies completed on the connection between dark chocolate and anxiety are observational, experts believe there’s an advantage to indulging in this sweet treat occasionally. For starters, chocolate contains tryptophans, which enhance serotonin production. It also contains magnesium which is ideal for helping treat depression.
Keep in mind that dark chocolate also contains sugar, which should only be consumed in moderation. Therefore, eating one to three grams of dark chocolate is recommended. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before incorporating this into your diet.
Green Leafy Vegetables
When your parents told you to eat your vegetables so you would grow up to be healthy and strong, it didn’t just apply to your physical well-being. You need green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens in your diet. They are high in magnesium, a vital nutrient that works to calm your nerves, which can ease anxiety. For a well-balanced diet, it’s recommended that you eat two cups of green leafy vegetables per day.
Oranges (Citrus Fruits)
While vitamin C is often categorized as something you take to boost your immune system, this essential vitamin does a lot more. Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, is packed with antioxidants, which help balance the central nervous system and reduce cortisol levels. Women should consume about 70 milligrams of vitamin c per day, while men need 95 milligrams.
A Few Pointers To Remember
Now that you know the significance of food to your mood and have some ideas of mood-boosting options to add to your diet, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Consider your health status – One of the first considerations is your health status. If you’re dealing with certain medical problems, consuming some of the foods listed above could cause an issue. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to consult your doctor first.
- One step at a time – While you want to get rid of your anxiety and improve your emotional health, trying to tackle too many things at once can cause more frustration. Try starting with one of the food items from the list, and then add on as it becomes a regular part of your diet.
- Be Patient – Patience is essential. Everyone’s health status and bodies work differently. If you’re deficient in specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, it will take longer for you to see results. Try consuming healthy foods for 30 days or more before deciding if it’s assisting with your anxiety.
- Make Other Lifestyle Changes – If you’re experiencing signs of anxiety, food alone may not fix all of your problem. Being aware of lifestyle changes like cutting back on junk food and caffeinated beverages, exercising, and getting at least 7-9 hours of rest will surely help.
Anxiety may be a typical response to fear, worry, doubt, and the unknown, but it’s not something you should experience all the time. If your anxiety persists for an extended period, it’s essential that you take the necessary steps to balance your emotions. Incorporating the five foods listed above into your diet can provide a healthy foundation you need to feel at ease. Although it may take time, continuing with healthy food choices and other lifestyle changes can help you reclaim your life.