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People can make a variety of lifestyle changes to help manage their anxiety. Eating a diet high in vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein can be helpful.
Anxiety is a widespread condition, affecting millions of people globally. Symptoms vary, and some people only experience them now and then. However, someone who experiences symptoms for 6 months or longer may have a
The symptoms of GAD include psychological and physical symptoms, such as:
- excessive worry about everyday events and problems
- difficulty concentrating
- issues with their personal social and work relationships
- heart palpitations, elevated heart rate
- muscle tension
- chest tightness
Doctors often treat GAD with a combination of treatments, including talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), alongside medications. Sometimes, these conventional treatments do not work long-term. However, some research suggests that proper nutrition can help improve symptoms.
1. Brazil nuts
Other nuts, animal products, and vegetables, such as mushrooms and soybeans, are an excellent source of selenium.
It is important not to consume too much selenium as it can cause side effects. The recommended upper limit for selenium for an adult is 400 micrograms (mcg) per day. So be careful not to take supplements with high doses or eat more than a three to four Brazil nuts a day.
Brazil nuts and other nuts are also a good source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Antioxidants can be beneficial for treating anxiety, while
2. Fatty fish
Omega-3-rich foods that contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) provides two essential
EPA and DHA regulate neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy brain function.
Salmon and sardines are also among the few foods that contain vitamin D.
Researchers are increasingly linking vitamin D deficiency to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. A report in the
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.
4. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of the mineral zinc. One study carried out on 100 female high school students found that zinc deficiency may negatively affect mood.
Zinc is essential for brain and nerve development. The largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the brain regions involved with emotions.
5. Dark chocolate
Experts have long suspected that dark chocolate might help reduce stress and anxiety. A
Other studies have generally found that dark chocolate or cocoa may improve mood. However, many of these studies are observational, so the results need to be interpreted with caution.
Although it is still unclear how dark chocolate reduces stress, it is a rich source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids.
Chocolate has a high tryptophan content, which the body uses to turn into mood-enhancing
When choosing dark chocolate, aim for 70 percent or more. Dark chocolate still contains added sugars and fats, so a small serving of 1 to 3 grams (g) is appropriate.
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian and South-East Asian cooking. The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin may help lower anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that often increase in people experiencing mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. A 2015 study found that curcumin reduced anxiety in obese adults.
Another study found that an increase of curcumin in the diet also increased DHA and reduced anxiety. Turmeric is easy to add to meals. It has minimal flavor, so goes well in smoothies, curries, and casserole dishes.
Many people around the world use chamomile tea as an herbal remedy because of its
Some people believe that the relaxant and anti-anxiety properties come from the flavonoids present in chamomile. A recent
Chamomile tea may be useful in managing anxiety. It is readily available and safe to use in high doses.
Yogurt contains healthful bacteria, Lactobaccilus and Bifidobacteria. There is emerging
According to a recent clinical review, yogurt and other dairy products may also produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Some research suggests that chronic inflammation may be partly responsible for anxiety, stress, and depression.
Including yogurt and other fermented food in the diet can benefit the natural gut bacteria and may reduce anxiety and stress.
Fermented foods include cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented soy products.
9. Green tea
Green tea contains an amino acid called
Green tea is easy to add to the day-to-day diet. It is a suitable replacement for soft drinks, coffee, and alcoholic beverages.
Eat a varied and balanced diet with high quality, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Aim for whole foods, vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, and especially fish. Other foods that may help include:
- Turkey and other tryptophan-containing foods such as eggs, dark chocolate, cheese, pineapple, bananas, oats, and tofu.
- Nuts, especially almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiency has been linked to mood disorders.
- Chia seeds are also a good source of omega-3s.
- Protein sources, such as lean meat, fish, nuts, and dairy all provide amino acids, which the body converts into the mood-lifting neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
- Spinach and Swiss chard are both high in magnesium.
- Cinnamon provides anti-inflammatory properties
Evidence increasingly shows that diets high in processed foods can increase anxiety.
If experiencing anxiety and stress, it is always best to seek out a specialist, such as a psychologist.
Sometimes, a doctor or psychologist may recommend talking therapy or CBT to manage anxiety and stress. They may also prescribe medications, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or benzodiazepines.
People should follow the doctor’s instructions when using these drugs, as they can have severe and possibly life threatening adverse effects.
Eating a healthful diet should provide all the nutrients needed for healthy brain function.
A healthful diet that contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as vitamins and minerals might help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Reducing foods that are high in added sugar, salt, and fats especially trans fats may help also help reduce inflammation. Reduce alcohol, sugar, and coffee as these may increase episodes of anxiety and the associated symptoms.
One report states that participating in enjoyable physical activity may also have a positive effect on mental health.
Some of the foods listed in this article are available for purchase online.