Essential Foods to Reduce Anxiety

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Steve Prussack, Founder of Juice Guru Institute
on November 10, 2021

Six everyday foods that will help you reduce anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions across the globe. It encompasses various disorders, such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety through to phobias. 

Anxiety is characterized by tension, worry, and nervousness that interfere with your daily life.

In many cases, the standard medical approach is medication and therapy.  Sometimes, people feel this is the only option. 

But several strategies can be used alone or in conjunction with medication to help you reduce anxiety and they have been repeatedly backed by science . These include techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, breathing, moderate and engaging exercise, and biofeedback.

Here are some foods that you can include in your daily diet that support your brain function and lower the severity of your symptoms from anxiety.

  1.  Chamomile 

Chamomile is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-anxiety properties.

Not only does chamomile have relaxant properties, but it is also believed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help lower the inflammation associated with the stress response typically present with anxiety.

 2.   Turmeric 

Turmeric, used in Indian and South-East Asian cooking for centuries, and well known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a more commonly known spice in the west now, thanks to the wellness explosion of the past decade. 

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which may help lower anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. It is thought to do this by increasing DHA (an omega 3) that has potent anti-inflammatory effects in the brain.

Turmeric is easy to include in your meals and has minimal flavor.  It can be used raw, cooked, or fermented. To increase its absorption in the body, you should pair it with black pepper.

 3.  Dark Chocolate

Trust me, this is another good reason to keep saying yes to quality dark chocolate!

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants.

So what is the mechanism of action? It is still unclear, but it’s believed that flavonoids increase blood flow to the brain and enhance the cell signals, which allows us to adjust more adequately to stressful situations that would usually lead to anxiety.

Also, chocolate has a high tryptophan content, which is turned into mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin by the body.

When selecting your dark chocolate, you should aim for 70% or more. The higher the percentage generally indicates the less added sugar. Dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation, but most people find that a smaller amount is acceptable before they feel the need to stop.

 4.  Green tea

Green tea contains an amino acid that has been proven through a randomized controlled trial to enhance brain health and reduce anxiety. In another double-blind, randomized study, the participants reported lower levels of stress. They were shown to have decreased cortisol levels as well.

It is thought that the amino acid reduces nerve excitability and increases dopamine and serotonin, which have anti-anxiety effects. It may also play a role by increasing GABA in the brain…remember, GABA is the calming influencer.

Green tea is easy to add to your daily dietary routine and a suitable replacement for coffee, soda, and alcoholic beverages.

 5.  Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts contain selenium, which has been considered a mood improver. Selenium is known to reduce inflammation which is exacerbated when someone is experiencing anxiety. It is also an antioxidant, which helps prevent cell damage. Other sources of selenium are mushrooms and soybeans.

But it is essential not to over-consume selenium because it is known to produce the side effects such as facial flushing, tremor, and lightheadedness. These side effects can be mistaken for symptoms of anxiety. You should keep to about three to four Brazil nuts a day.

 6.  Pumpkin Seeds

These seeds are a great source of potassium that helps regulate your electrolytes and manage your blood pressure. They are also a good source of zinc. This mineral is essential for brain and nerve development. Interestingly, the largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the brain region that is involved with emotions.

Key Takeaway of Foods to Reduce Anxiety

There is no denying that anxiety is a complicated mental health disorder that is often misunderstood or even misdiagnosed. But, there is a multitude of strategies to help manage it effectively. 

The foods you eat may help support your brain health and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Just as some foods are detrimental. 

Reducing foods that are high in sugar, salt, and trans fats helps to reduce inflammation. And increasing your consumption of minimally processed foods high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements to support your overall well-being.

About Steve Prussack

Steve Prussack is the founder of Juice Guru Institute. He is the bestselling author of "Juice Guru" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Juice Fasting".

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