Anxiety is something that many people experience in our fast pace, technology driven, and fast-food loving society. Anxiety and stress seem to be a part of everyone’s life and is characterized by muscle tension, restlessness, rapid pulse, upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, irritability, sweating, sleep problems and fatigue. Many people don’t realize that their food can actually trigger anxiety and they can control how they feel. Foods to fight anxiety? Here are a few examples.
Folic acid and Vitamin B12 have been found to be lacking in patients with depression. Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and spinach all elevate mood enhancing hormones in your body. Many vegetables have nutrients and vitamins in them that have been found to decrease the stress hormone called cortisol. Spinach in particular is high in magnesium and has been found to decrease cortisol levels in the body. I know a lot my clients are not overly excited when I tell them to add more vegetables in their diet because they are used to streaming them. Now that it is summertime, why not try grilling them with a little olive or coconut oil and sea salt for a change. This is a delicious alternative!
Fresh fruits provide us with vitamins that are great for combating anxiety. Citrus and strawberries in particular have been found to help decrease stress and anxiety in people due to the high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our cells when they are under attack in stressful situations so adding foods like Blueberries, pomegranates, kale and legumes are great protectors against anxiety. Try adding fresh berries to your morning oats, or favorite greek yogurt for an easy way to get your daily dose of antioxidants.
Omega 3’s and Fatty Acids
Omega 3’s and fatty acids are essential in anyone’s diet to eradicate feelings of anxiety. Omega 3’s have been found to decrease cortisol levels and decrease adrenalin spikes. This type of fat has also been shown to decrease the cytokine production, which is commonly found in people who experience stress and even depression. Some examples of foods rich in Omega 3’s are flaxseeds/flax seed oil, nuts, and fish. Grilled fish with olive oil, lemon and sea salt is an excellent way to prepare fish and it tastes delicious.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in turkey and poultry. Tryptophan is responsible for the release of serotonin, which is a hormone that promotes relaxation and calmness. Substitute ground turkey for your ground beef and prepare your next barbeque with these feel good delights.
According to the Mayo clinic a diet with whole grain carbohydrates can help minimize these unwanted feelings. Carbohydrates help increase the levels of serotonin in the blood and lead to mood elevation. So many people give carbohydrates a “bad rap” but choosing the right carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grain pasta (I love spelt pasta) can actually make you feel good, and give you the energy you need to get through the day!
Foods to avoid
In addition to foods that you should eat to help prevent feelings of anxiety, here are some foods that can cause them. Be aware of how you feel after you consume these foods and minimize your consumption of them.
Alcohol has been linked to releasing the stress hormone of cortisol. Having alcohol in moderation or not at all can prevent feelings of anxiety.
Although many of us need that morning kick of caffeine to start our day or to prevent the afternoon “slumps” caffeine has been found to produce feelings of anxiousness. The adrenaline that caffeine provides can sometimes trigger these feelings. Instead of having your morning Java, why not try green tea. Although some of the green teas have caffeine, others provide you with a calming energy you need with the absence of anxiety.
Your body may be sensitive to certain foods. Taking food sensitivity tests can let you become aware of the particular foods that can be giving you these feelings without you knowing it. Finding out which foods trigger your feelings of anxiety can provide you with a great tool for avoiding anxiety through diet. ALCAT testing can help you find out what you are intolerant or sensitive to.
It’s not only WHAT you eat, it’s also HOW you eat
Not only can these foods reduce your chances of feeling anxious after you eat, but the way you consume them is also important
Try these simple tips to minimize the chances of feeling anxiety after a meal. All of these factors can affect digestion and absorption affecting the body’s ability to extract necessary enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
– Eating too fast or on the run
– Not chewing food at least 15-20 times per mouthful
– Eating too much to the point of feeling stuffed or bloated
– Drinking too much fluid with a meal which can dilute stomach acid and digestive enzymes (one cup with a meal is sufficient)
The key to preventing feelings of anxiety related to your diet is to really be attuned to how you feel after you eat. Take note of those foods and avoid them! So if you are looking for food that will make you look and feel fabulous give these ingredients a try the next time you cook a meal.