Anxiety disorders are incredibly prevalent in the United States. If you are among the millions of adults struggling with anxiety in the U.S., there are several coping strategies you might explore to reduce anxiety and help you improve your mental health. One often overlooked component of managing anxiety is eating a healthy diet. Diets rich in processed foods, refined sugars, and simple carbohydrates only worsen anxiety symptoms. Alternatively, eating more whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans and legumes, and lean meats can help bring your body and your mind into balance. The following foods are particularly beneficial for reducing anxiety, so add these to your grocery list if you’re dealing with unchecked stress.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are often referred to as brain food. Omega-3 reduces inflammation and triggers production of serotonin, which can improve your mood and boost cognitive function. Not a fan of fish? Try eggs, nuts, or olive oil—these foods are also high in omega-3s. Eggs also boast vitamin B6 and zinc, which are other building blocks for brain health.
Magnesium and vitamin C are more nutrients associated with reducing anxiety. These are abundant in leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and arugula. Even better, these foods add healthy fiber to your diet to promote good digestion and a healthy gut biome. Sautee leafy greens in olive oil and sprinkle them with chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans for a nutritional powerhouse that will nourish your body and mind.
Some studies have indicated that a lack of antioxidants in the body may contribute to anxiety symptoms. Antioxidants are nutrients that damage oxidizing agents in the cells of the body, thus improving cell function and reducing inflammation. Berries are rich in antioxidants and make for a simple snack that can cater to your sweet tooth.
Eating to improve your mood isn’t just about feeding your brain with the right nutrients. It’s also about balancing your gut to improve digestion and help your endocrine system produce the right chemicals for your body to function properly—did you know that most of the serotonin in your body is produced in the gut? So, you should nourish your gut biome with probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
The right diet is a great start in combating anxiety, but you should not neglect to seek professional help from a licensed therapist. Therapy can offer helpful coping strategies and allow you to explore the various triggers for your anxiety symptoms, so you can improve your overall quality of life. MeMD can pair you with a therapist via our convenient, affordable telehealth platform.