Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a common emotion, which is also how your body reacts to stress. Moving to a new place, the first day at college or at the job or a strenuous situation can give rise to this emotion, and you may experience symptoms such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Fast breathing
- Trouble focusing
- Trouble sleeping
Although feeling anxious for a while in such scenarios is common, however, it is a matter of concern if you feel fearful most of the time and it starts to interfere with your daily life. This could indicate an anxiety disorder, of which there are several types, such as:
- Panic attack
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The food you eat has a direct impact on your emotions and mental health. While preventing anxiety disorders isn’t something that can be controlled, however, by adding the following foods to your diet, you can sure help curb the symptomatic effects.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the brain-boosting foods that can help reduce the severity of the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can help in reducing anxiousness by regulating neurotransmitters- dopamine and serotonin. These chemical messengers are known for increasing happiness and positivity.
Serotonin- the feel-good hormone helps stabilize mood, making you calmer and more focused. Dopamine- the happiness hormone helps feel pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation.
Some foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Chia seeds
- Brussel sprouts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Edamame & beans
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps regulate the circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), mood, and pain by making melatonin and serotonin hormones.
According to research, people who have low levels of tryptophan are more likely to experience anxiety, tension, and a feeling of nervousness than people who have adequate levels of tryptophan.
The body does not prepare this amino acid, and it can only be consumed by having foods such as:
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that provides a range of benefits such as:
But that’s not all of it. Studies suggest, having a moderate amount of foods rich in magnesium can also help reduce anxiety and promote brain health.
A few food options loaded with magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Broccoli & carrots
Potassium plays a vital role when it comes to managing anxiety. According to research, sufficient potassium levels can control anxiety symptoms such as restlessness, nervousness, or tension.
This mineral also provides other benefits like:
The body cannot produce potassium. Thus, you must opt for foods that can deliver this mineral in adequate amounts. Here are a few options:
- Dry fruits (raisins, cashews, almonds & apricots)
- Beans and lentils
- Leafy greens (spinach & broccoli)
Note: Both potassium and magnesium are electrolytes. They help carry small electric charges throughout the body, responsible for muscle contraction and nerve functions.
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in India. Studies suggest that around 70% to 90% of the population lack this essential vitamin and may experience symptoms such as:
A few steps you can take to improve vitamin D levels include:
- Regular sun exposure (for at least 10 to 15 minutes between 10 AM to 3 PM)
- Eating mushrooms
- Including egg yolk in the diet
- Fortified foods (cow milk, vegan milk, orange juice & tofu)
- Green vegetables (spinach, kale & soybeans)
Here are a few more options that can help manage anxiety:
- Chamomile: When consumed regularly, may regulate neurotransmitters & reduce stress and anxiety.
- Turmeric: Rich in an active compound called curcumin, turmeric helps in reducing anxiety and promoting brain health.
- Green tea: It contains an amino acid called L-theanine. This helps decrease cortisol levels (stress hormones) and increase serotonin levels (the feel-good hormone), making green tea consumption an essential step to reduce anxiety.
Anxiety, though a common condition, yet, should not be ignored. Including the above-mentioned essentials in your diet can help manage anxiety and may reduce the impact of its symptoms.
Moreover, you should also frequently opt for stress screening. A stress screening can provide the required insights to help you take necessary preventive measures to manage anxiety.
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