Here’s what to eat to help control anxiety.
Foods high in EPA and DHA
These two potent omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on brain activity. Firstly, they reduce brain cell inflammation that can lead to the development of anxiety. Secondly, they regulate the release and flow of dopamine and serotonin, two hormones that have a calming effect. And finally, they can improve your brain’s ability to handle stress and adapt to change. Foods that are good sources of EPA and DHA include salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and anchovies.
Foods high in magnesium
Studies have connected diets low in magnesium to anxietyrelated behaviors. In the brain, magnesium plays a key role in regulating neurotransmitters that send messages to your brain and body. Get magnesium from avocados, beans, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Anxiety has been correlated with a lowered total antioxidant state. A diet full of some of the highest antioxidant foods could help ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Focus on berries, tart cherry juice, apples, prunes, walnuts, pecans, leafy greens, artichokes, broccoli, turmeric, ginger and beans.
Green or chamomile tea
These two varieties of tea have been connected to reduced anxiety. Chamomile is an herb with high amounts of antioxidants shown to reduce inflammatory markers in people with anxiety. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine that has an anti-anxiety effect by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine.
Pre- and probiotic-rich foods Studies have connected a healthy gut microbiome to increased happiness, improved brain health and lowered inflammation. A healthy microbiome thrives on a variety of probiotics. Get them from yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented products. The microbiome also thrives on prebiotics, the fuel that helps feed the probiotics in your gut. Prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onions, asparagus, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas and chicory root.
Feeling uneasy? Avoid these.
Too much caffeine
While a little caffeine can improve alertness for some people, too much may increase anxiety symptoms. In fact “caffeine-induced anxiety disorder” is a condition recognized in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Many mental health experts suggest reducing or avoiding caffeine as a natural defense against anxiety, or swapping higher-caffeine choices like coffee, energy drinks or caffeinated soft drinks for lower-caffeine choices like green tea or decaf coffee.
Though alcohol may have an immediate calming effect on nerves, it changes levels of serotonin in the brain, which can worsen anxiety symptoms. Alcohol also has a negative impact on sleep, and poor sleep is a known trigger for anxiety. Artificial food additives
The connection between artificial sweeteners and dyes and mental disorders is still being researched. However, many experts believe regular use of food products containing these additives causes a disruption in the normal function of the nervous system, which could increase anxiety.
Everyone should reduce or eliminate trans fats for overall health, and this is especially true for people with anxiety, since trans fatty acids have been linked to anxiety and depression. Artificial trans fats have been banned by the FDA, but despite this, foods that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving can list zero grams trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label. While this amount is small, it can add up quickly. Trans fats exist mostly in packaged baked goods, some margarine and vegetable shortenings, some microwave popcorns, fried fast food, nondairy creamers and refrigerated doughs and biscuits. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated oil,” that’s a good indication it has trans fats. High-sugar foods
Research has connected high sugar intake to increased mood disorders and feelings of anxiety. A lot of sugar at once causes your blood sugar to spike and then drop, which can increase worry and irritability. Sugar also inhibits the release of cortisol, which can weaken your natural ability to respond to stress and make you more reliant on sugar when feeling anxious. Many desserts, baked goods, sweetened beverages, candy and packaged snacks are high in sugar. Conventional condiments and sauces, frozen meals, sweetened canned fruit, cereal and flavored yogurt are less-obvious sources of high sugar.