Anxiety is a catch-all name for a group of disorders that manifest as constant feelings of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and stress. Approximately 40 million American adults are suffering from some form of anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
While the root causes of anxiety may vary, there are factors that can alleviate and significantly decrease anxiety. Nutrition is one of them. In some cases, nutritional imbalances can be the main source of anxiety, and by consuming nutrient-rich foods you can heal the root cause and eliminate the problem altogether. Even when anxiety is caused by an emotional event or invasive thoughts, adjusting your diet can greatly reduce the edge and intensity of your symptoms.
By eating regular meals and adding a couple of items to your weekly menu, you can significantly improve the way you feel. Here are 11 practical tips on alleviating anxiety by making small changes in your diet:
Protein for breakfast
Eating protein for breakfast can help you stay full longer and keep your blood sugar steady, avoiding the highs and lows that exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
Limit or avoid caffeine
Caffeine can make you feel jittery and on edge and interfere with your sleep patterns, which worsens anxiety. Stabilize your body by eliminating coffee or drinking decaf to feel steady throughout the day, both mentally and physically.
Water vs. soda
Most soda drinks have high caffeine content and unreasonable amounts of sugar, which throw your blood sugar levels into chaos. Choose water instead of soda to avoid unnecessary mood swings.
Eat regular meals
Eating regular meals prevents hypoglycemic states that worsen anxiety symptoms. Maintaining a steady calorie intake throughout the day will make you feel more stable and less anxious.
Salmon is incredibly beneficial to those experiencing anxiety due to its high content of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin D improves your levels of calming neurotransmitters while EPA and DHA (essential fatty acids derived from fish oil), promote your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, allowing you to better handle the stressors that produce anxiety.
Chamomile has been shown to help with anxiety because of its high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties. A study showed that anxiety patients showed a significant decrease of anxiety symptoms after consuming chamomile extract.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has been shown to increase the level of antioxidants in the blood that correlate to low levels of anxiety. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate anxiety.
Dark chocolate contains flanovols – antioxidants that benefit brain function by improving blood flow to the brain and increasing your ability to adapt to stressful situations. Remember to consume dark chocolate in moderation and not overeat – 1-1.5 oz per serving is enough for its optimal effect.
Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has shown positive effect on overall brain health and anxiety reduction. Moreover, it contains EGCG, an antioxidant that increases GABA in the brain, reducing anxiety.
Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3’s boost brain function and alleviant anxiety.
Almonds are high in vitamin E, which has also shown positive effects on anxiety symptoms.
The emotional equivalant of fluctuating blood sugar levels is like riding a roller coaster of mood swings. You can keep your body stable by eating these recommended nutrient-rich foods and avoiding disruptive substances like sugar and caffeine.
Try incorporating these simple yet important tips into your lifestyle for a week, and let us know how you feel in the comments below!
Want to know more about regulating your anxiety with diet? Alleviant Health centers of Akron is hosting a free educational lecture on August 1 in partnership with Vivify Wellness at Avenues. that will cover ways food, vitamins, hormones and thyroid irregularities can affect mood as well as other ways to address anxiety than with just traditional medication and talk therapy options. RSVP below: