What is anxiety?
A certain amount of anxiety is normal and necessary; it can lead you to act on your concerns and protect you from harm. In some situations, anxiety can even be essential to your survival. If you were standing at the edge of a curb, for example, and a car swerved toward you, you would immediately perceive danger, feel alarm and jump back to avoid the car. This normal anxiety response, called the “fight or flight” response, is what prompts you to either fight or flee from danger.
When we feel danger, or think that danger is about to occur, the brain sends a message to the nervous system, which responds by releasing adrenaline. Increased adrenaline causes us to feel alert and energetic, and gives us a spurt of strength, preparing us to attack (fight) or escape to safety (flight). Increased adrenaline can also have unpleasant side-effects. These can include feeling nervous, tense, dizzy, sweaty, shaky or breathless. Such effects can be disturbing, but they are not harmful to the body and generally do not last long.
Everyone experiences anxiety. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress are overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday things, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S., or 18%, have an anxiety disorder. Approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience the negative impact of an anxiety disorder at school and at home.
Foods that can help coping with anxiety
It contains nutrients that promote brain health, including vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
According to a study from Ohio University, omega-3 fatty acids are particularly effective when it comes to foods that help with anxiety. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in foods like salmon, chia seeds, soybeans, and walnuts as well as cold-pressed olive oil.
In another study, men who ate Atlantic salmon 3 times per week for 5 months reported less anxiety than those who ate chicken, pork, or beef. Moreover, they had improved anxiety-related symptoms, such as heart rate and heart rate variability.
2. Kale (or Arugula)
Researchers at the State University of New York found that anxious symptoms are linked with a lower antioxidant state and that antioxidants can help with mood, too. Dark, leafy greens like kale, which is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, are needed to boost antioxidant levels and support optimal brain functioning.
Egg yolks are another great source of vitamin D.
Eggs are also an excellent source of protein. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids the body needs for growth and development.
Eggs also contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps create serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood, sleep, memory, and behavior. Serotonin is also thought to improve brain function and relieve anxiety.
Cherries contain antioxidants like quercetin, which can help promote feelings of calmness. Eating more fruits and veggies in general has also been linked to decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression and increased happiness levels. Some studies have shown that eating five or more servings per day helps boost your mood, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 10% of Americans hit that recommendation.
5. Dark Chocolate
Its bitter flavor profile is polarizing for some, but promising research could tip the scales in favor of a frequent treat. A 2019 survey-based study published in the journal Depression & Anxiety suggests that people who eat dark chocolate regularly are less likely to report depressive symptoms. While more research is needed to confirm any causation due to the study’s limited size, adding a small amount in your routine certainly can’t hurt.
6. Chamomile Tea
Who doesn’t love a cup of warm, soothing cup of tea after a long day? If you can, spring for chamomile: A 2016 clinical trial, with results published in the journal Phytomedicine, suggests that those who drank this tea over a long-term period “significantly” reduced severe generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. Chamomile’s role in anxiety reduction may have something to do with it’s ability to enhance your efforts to get to sleep on time.
Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, a compound studied for its role in promoting brain health and preventing anxiety disorders. Known for its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may help to prevent damage to brain cells related to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress
If you suffer from anxiety, yogurt is a great food to include in your diet. The probiotics, or healthy bacteria, found in some types of yogurt may improve several aspects of your well-being, including mental health.
Vitamin B6 helps the body make several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which influences mood. The B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, have positive effects on the nervous system. Deficiencies of these vitamins have been linked to increased anxiety in some people.
Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fat that may help to lessen anxiety. Vitamin E is a nutrient that is important for vision, reproduction and maintaining healthy skin. It’s also been connected with cognition, helps widen blood vessels and is needed for the formation of red blood cells. Because vitamin E is fat-soluble it’s only found in foods like nuts and avocados that have a high-fat content.