If you are anxious by nature, you should know about the role diet plays in either exacerbating or reducing anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. And while there are numerous therapies and medications to help treat anxiety, diet is one of the most important factors to manage anxiety and feel calmer.
There are some basic dietary principles to follow to lessen anxiety, many of which overlap with eating a sensible and healthy diet in general. Specifically:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (five 12 oz. glasses of water per day is recommended)
- Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes
- Avoid refined sugars and carbs (found in candy, cakes, chips, crackers, white bread, pasta, soda, packaged sweets and snacks, etc.) which spike blood sugar and make you feel jittery
But beyond these overarching guidelines, there are specific foods you should be eating to induce a state of peace and calm. These are the foods that have been shown specifically to reduce anxiety:
- Foods high in magnesium including leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard, seeds (squash and pumpkin seeds), lima beans, tuna, almonds, dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher), avocados, and bananas
- Foods high in zinc including beef, liver, oysters, crab, cashews, egg yolks, and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans)
- Foods high in omega-3 including fish such as wild salmon, mackeral, anchovies, sardines, and herring, as well as seeds (flax seeds and chia seeds) and walnuts
- Fermented foods that are probiotic-rich including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, tempeh, miso, and yogurt
- Foods high in tryptophan including turkey, chicken, milk, oats, peanut butter, and sesame seeds
- Foods high in healthy fats including extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and avocado
- Tahini (made of ground sesame seeds) is a staple of the Mediterranean Diet and helps to reduce stress and anxiety
- Asparagus has been shown to have anti-anxiety benefits
- Turmeric helps to boost mood and reduce anxiety (ginger produces a similar effect)
- Bone broth has been shown to help heal the gut and reduce symptoms of anxiety
- Drink tea (specifically regular green tea or matcha tea) instead of coffee
If you are one of the millions of people suffering from anxiety, try adding some of these foods to your shopping list.
I hope they help you achieve a sense of calm and well-being.