Top 10 Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety & Ease Stress
Posted on December 31 2021
n a fast-paced life, everyone; complains about being encircled by stresses from all sides. What I feel is more than the stresses of the daily chores; it’s our reaction to the stress that’s causes more stress. As they say, nothing in this world can torment us as much as our thoughts, our thought process builds like a debilitating spiral causing an impending doom. Well, that’s what leads to anxiety, which has become an epidemic in recent decades.
If stress is a response to a threat in a situation, anxiety is a reaction to the stress; it is the fear of what might happen in the future.
When you’re anxious, your nervous system will be in flight or fight mode. Anxiety; is characterized by excessive worry about a matter, irritability, difficulty concentrating, shallow breathing, muscle tension, fatigue, headaches, stomach upset, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep.
Anxiety will cause a massive strain for the body and mind; if it gets activated too often. Although; yoga, pranayama, distracting yourself, painting, socializing, connecting with nature are some of the best-known tips to ease anxiety, interestingly, there are some nutritional interventions that are found to be beneficial for reducing anxiety.
This blog lists some of the nutritional strategies you can take to ease anxiety and achieve better mental health…
Banana is known to be a good source of B-vitamins, potassium, phytonutrients, and amino acids like threonine, tryptophan, flavonoids, and sterols. Vitamin B6 converts tryptophan into serotonin, a mood-lifting hormone. Banana contains natural sugars like sucrose, fructose, and glucose which give a sustained boost of energy. The B-vitamins regulate adrenal glands, which in turn control the body’s cortisol levels. Potassium in bananas ensures the brain’s ability to properly utilize serotonin, while magnesium binds to calming receptors, regulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Bananas are an excellent source of prebiotics, which feed the healthy bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut is associated with lower rates of anxiety or mood disorders.
MICRONUTRIENTS – Magnesium/Zinc/Iron
Low magnesium levels in the body have been associated with raised brain noradrenaline content. Magnesium modulates the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is a central substrate of the stress response system. Magnesium decreases the release of adinocorticotropic hormone, reduces cortisol and endocrine responses. Pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, spinach, whole grains, fish all contain good amounts of magnesium. A diet low in zinc causes a high level of cortisol production causing hyperactivity of the pituitary-adrenal axis. Zinc is associated with GABA and glutamate regulation, particularly through anxiolytic activity. Seeds, dairy, whole grains are some of the magnesium-rich foods. Iron has a role in many of the brain’s processes regulating mood. Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, seafood are good sources of iron.
As per studies, anxiety is interlinked with gut problems. Fermentation and germination have been proposed to enhance functional nutrients like GABA and antioxidant compounds in cereals and legume seeds. Fermented rice bran has been reported by studies to possess antistress, antifatigue, and anxiety effects. Fermented mung bean possesses an antianxiety effect which may be contributed by the presence of GABA. During the fermentation process, probiotics are created which increase serotonin levels, allowing good bacteria in the gut to survive. Probiotics such as curd, lassi, buttermilk, and other fermented foods can improve the bacterial flora in the gut and can have positive effects on mood health, especially for reducing anxiety.
Green tea is a rich source of epigallocatechin-3-gallate, theanine, phenolic acids, flavonoids, alkaloids, polyacetylenes, saponins, and terpenoids. Theanine and catechin in green tea modulate GABA production which produces a significant anti-stress effect. Theanine acts on glutamine transporter in the brain and inhibits the incorporation of extracellular glutamine into neurons. Glutamine converts glutamic acid with the help of glutaminase, and glutamic acid is then decarboxylated into GABA. Tulsi tea contains eugenol which is an important adaptogen that is effective in lowering corticosterone levels and promoting mental calmness. Oolong tea contains L-Theanine, which is associated with reducing anxiety. Mint tea has essential oil menthol which is associated with promoting anxiety. Chamomile tea contains terpenoids and flavonoids which contribute to a calming effect.
Low serotonin levels have been associated with irritability and anxiety. Dark chocolate contains cocoa polyphenols and flavonoids (epicatechin) that help in the enhancement of endogenous antioxidant defense. The principal polyphenols in cocoa enhance cerebral blood flow. Dark chocolate contains nearly 85% cocoa solids that contain tryptophan that our brain uses to produce serotonin. Serotonin is thought to enhance adaptive responses by improving stress tolerability and by improving the ability to overcome the source of stress by improving mental fatigue and by modulating mood.
VITAMIN C RICH FOODS
Vitamin C is a cofactor in the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, it is required to convert tryptophan into serotonin, which plays a significant role in regulating mood. It is an established fact that serotonin, dopamine, and nor-epinephrine synthesis require vitamin C. These neurotransmitters provide the body with motivational energy and feelings of calmness. The deficiency of norepinephrine plays an important role in reducing anxiety and maintaining mood. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in combating the damage caused by oxidative stress. Vitamin C is essential for the recovery of our adrenal glands, it protects the body from cumulative effects of stress and anxiety. Oranges, blueberries, strawberries, kiwifruit, guava, tomatoes, lemons, broccoli, litchis are some of the vitamin C foods you can consume regularly.
Brazil nuts, hazelnuts are effective anti-stress and anti-anxiety foods. These nuts contain vitamin E and several phenolic acids like gallic acid, which prevent oxidative damage to cells. Walnuts have a significantly high concentration of DHA, which possesses a high antioxidant capacity to help reduce stress. Almonds are rich in magnesium and vitamin E, which help to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Pistachios contain a good amount of potassium, vitamin E, phytosterols, and xanthophyll carotenoids which possess high antioxidant potential. Peanuts contain polyphenols which increase blood flow to the brain, resveratrol in peanuts inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines, has a neuroprotective effect.
Being dehydrated can affect your mood just like how being hungry can make you feel. Dehydration impedes energy production in the brain and can negatively impact other amino acids, resulting in feelings of irritability and anxiety. Being dehydrated throws off dopamine, serotonin balance in the brain. Serotonin, in order to get converted into tryptophan, requires sufficient water. When you are stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, when adrenal glands become exhausted, it lowers electrolyte levels. Water is a natural calming agent, being well hydrated will lower the body’s inflammation markers and can improve your mood. Consume watermelon, strawberries, oranges, cucumber, tomatoes, pineapple, papaya, celery, lettuce, melons which are the top hydrating foods.
The most well-known effect of ashwagandha is its supposed ability to lower cortisol, and promote calmness. Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that gained recognition as an adaptogen, which indicates its ability to stabilize the body’s response to stress. The beneficial effect of ashwagandha may be due to its GABA-mimetic activity. Ashwagandha effectively increases antioxidant activity, might help protect nerve cells from damage, will reduce the spiked-up cortisol levels, and restore a state of mental balance. Consuming ashwagandha on a regular basis will improve brain function, instill calmness, reduce stress levels, and promote well-being.
OMEGA-3 RICH FOODS
Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain essential fatty acids that cannot be made in the body and need to be obtained through the diet. The 3 main types of omega-3s – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukins which are associated with anxiety and enhances neurotransmission. Omegas promotes the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, dopamine, and serotonin. Flax seeds, walnuts, canola oil, avocados, chia seeds, contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Negative moods are associated with negative outcomes, try not to get plagued by anxious thoughts…
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