Looking for foods that help with anxiety? Research shows that some foods act as natural remedies for anxiety, while others can send you into overdrive. Try these 8 foods that reduce anxiety today.
Are you struggling to keep anxiety at bay even though you meet regularly with a therapist, take your medication as prescribed, and have a good support system? The truth is, treatment for anxiety shouldn’t stop when you leave your therapist’s office, screw the lid back on the pill bottle, or step away from your family and friends—effective anxiety management involves one other significant factor: your diet. If you haven’t tried tweaking what you eat then you may be missing an important opportunity to beat back your anxiety.
Doctors and dietitians are starting to understand more about how the nutritional properties of the foods we eat affect the brain. “There is a clear and important connection between the brain and the gut,” explains Jodi Godfrey, MS, RD, a health and nutrition educator. “Researchers now refer to the gut as the second brain. When essential nutrients are not sufficiently available, there is a direct effect on the production of neurotransmitters and brain chemistry that can increase or lessen anxiety-related behaviors.”
Does adjusting your diet to ease your anxiety seem daunting? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, reflecting on the choices you make when it comes to food is a straightforward, positive lifestyle change for your body and brain. “The most important dietary change for anyone who has anxiety to make is to plan meals around whole foods, lowering or eliminating the number of processed foods including sweets and snack foods,” advises Godfrey.
The modifications you can make to your diet are as simple as swapping out foods could be spiking your anxiety for foods that may lessen the severity of your symptoms. Avoid binge-eating your go-to comfort foods (which only leave you feeling guilty and more anxious) and enjoy nutritious superfoods with mood-boosting properties. You’ll feel better for it.
Start eating foods that help with anxiety and stress today by introducing these 8 simple food swaps into your diet:
Many studies going back to the 1960s indicate that many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have an elevated incident of folate deficiency. Asparagus is one vegetable that contains a valuable amount of this mood-boosting nutrient. One cup alone provides two-thirds of your daily recommended folate value.
Food Swap: Asparagus Spears Instead of Fries
Ditch the French Fries and sauté, steam, or grill some asparagus to serve as a side dish. If you tend to snack on fries, consider this substitute: dip cooked asparagus into salsa, hummus, or a bean dip.
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,” explains Godfrey. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fat that may help to lessen anxiety.
Food Swap: Non-Dairy Frozen Avocado Treat Instead of Ice Cream
Avocado ice cream? Yes, you heard that right. Next time you’re reaching for that pint of full-fat, calorie-laden ice-cream, whip up your own frozen avocado treat. Just blend avocado with a ripe banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, and sweetener. Freeze for a few hours and then dig in, knowing you’re boosting those B vitamins as you go!
When we’re anxious and stressed, our bodies crave vitamin C to help repair and protect our cells, and blueberries are packed full of it. Small but mighty, blueberries are bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C which have been shown to provide anxiety relief. One study1 examined the effects of oral vitamin C supplements on anxiety in a group of students and found that antioxidants may be useful for both the prevention and reduction of anxiety.
Food Swap: Blueberries Instead of Sugary Sweets
Reaching for sugar when hunger strikes causes the brain to work at sub-optimal level and puts you at greater risk for depressive symptoms associated with anxiety. “The sweetness from blueberries is a better option acting as a positive immune booster; added sugars throw off the healthy bacterial balance in the gut that may increase anxiety,” Godfrey says.