Which Foods Can Help Beat Anxiety

Anxiety is a common condition which many suffer from. We look at some of the foods that have been identified to reduce the severity of anxiety symptoms.

School Of Nutrition Posted May 14, 2018 Future Fit Training


Which Foods Can Help Beat Anxiety

Anxiety is characterised by the feelings of constant worry and nervousness, it may be related to poor brain health and sometimes requires medication for treatment. Other than medication, there are a few useful strategies which can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, including deep breathing and exercising.

Top foods to help beat anxiety

Salmon

Salmon contains nutrients which promote brain health, such as vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (1, 2, 3, 4). These omega-3 fatty acids aid in regulating the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which both provide calming and relaxing properties. Additionally, studies show fatty acids can reduce signs of inflammation and prevent dysfunction of brain cells which can play a role in the development of mental disorders such as anxiety. By consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, you can promote your brains ability to adapt to change which in turn allows you to better handle stressors which trigger symptoms of anxiety (5). Studies also show that vitamin D can have positive effects on improving levels of neurotransmitters which have calming effects (6, 7). So by consuming a few servings of salmon a week, you could potentially promote some anxiety relief.

Chamomile

Chanomile is a herb which research shows can help to reduce anxiety, it contains large amounts of antioxidants which have been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of anxiety (8, 9, 10). Studies which have examined the association between chamomile and anxiety relief have found that those who are diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) experienced a greater reduction in their symptoms once they had consumed a chamomile extract in comparison to those who had not (11, 12). These findings were backed by another study in which participants consumed chamomile extract for eight weeks and saw a reduction in their symptoms of depression and anxiety (13).

Although these results all appear promising, more in depth research is required to further understand and evaluate the anti-anxiety effects of chamomile tea.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice which contains the compound curcumin, this compound has been studied for both its role in promoting brain health and in preventing anxiety disorders (14, 15). Studies in both animals and in-vitro have suggested that curcumin can boost the omega-3 fatty acid DHA within the brain by assisting your body in synthesising it more efficiently (14). A study involving mice found that administering twenty milligrams per kilogram of curcumin managed to produce significant anti-anxiety effects in stressed mice, as when compared to those mice who were administered a lower dosage (16).

Countless studies have found that curcumin has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can prevent brain cell damage (8, 18, 19). These effects are partly down to curcumin's abilities in reducing inflammatory markers which are often linked with the development of anxiety (20, 8). To confirm all of these effects, more human studies are required, although it harmless and advisable to consider incorporating turmeric into your diet.

Yogurt

The probiotics (healthy bacteria) which are found in some types of yogurts have been shown to improve several aspects of your overall wellbeing, some of which include your mental health (21, 22). Studies have shown that probiotic foods such as yogurt can promote mental health and brain function through inhibiting free radicals and neurotoxins, which are able to damage nerve tissues in the brain and contribute to the development of anxiety (23, 24). Remember though, that not all kinds of yogurt contain probiotics, to reap the benefits of probiotics make sure that you chose yogurts which have live active cultures listed as an ingredient on the packaging.

For more information on foods which can help beat anxiety, see our behaviour change coaching course

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