5 foods that help reduce anxiety

Everyone gets anxious. Doctors often know how to treat anxiety with medications and therapy, but sometimes the answer could be hiding in what we eat. 

We spoke to a health expert, Vanessa Ascencao about foods that help with anxiety, and here is what she said. 

Choose food that helps balance blood sugar levels

Eat a whole-food, plant-focussed diet, comprising an abundance of green vegetables and seasonal fruits. Avoid sugar, processed and refined foods. This will naturally help balance blood sugar levels and reduce anxiety. Make meals, salads or smoothies which include spinach, asparagus, nuts, legumes, berries, pumpkin seeds, avocados and almonds as these contain essential nutrients for physical and mental health. 

Identify food high in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids  

Antioxidants found in dark leafy greens and omega 3 healthy fats found in raw nuts, seeds, avocados, pure olive oil and fatty fish have been shown to help reduce anxiety, depression and can help improve cognitive function. Choose fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. 

turmeric root and powder - 5 foods that help reduce anxiety
Turmeric. Picture: Supplied

Try turmeric 

Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, commonly used in Indian dishes has been shown to help lower anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that often increase in people experiencing mood disorders. Turmeric is easy to add to meals such as curries, casseroles or smoothies. Studies show that turmeric extract in BCM-95 which is found in the food supplement, Bio-Curcumin, specifically targets the underlying pathways of depression and anxiety by promoting neuro-genesis (the generation of new brain neurons), increasing the feel-good compounds serotonin and dopamine and promoting the anti-stress chemical norepinephrine – while at the same time helping inhibit inflammation which underlies most disease.

Increase vitamin D and B intake 

Research shows that vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression and anxiety. Foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel and regular exposure to sunlight is also helpful. Foods rich in vitamin B include nuts, seeds, avocados, sweet potatoes, lean meat, fish, eggs, and spinach. 

Iron deficiency 

Iron deficiency may contribute to depression and anxiety. Low iron affects the body’s dopamine levels which can cause anxiety and depression, fatigue, brain fog and even insomnia. Some of the best plant sources of iron are beans, lentils, baked potatoes, cashews and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach. 

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