There are many foods listed on the internet that have their merit for being good anxiety relievers. After doing my own research with my own anxiety, I have created a list that has worked the best for me. (..and what’s best for me may not be best for you, so be sure to try do your own research!)
So, why are certain foods better for relieving anxiety than others?
Foods that release serotonin-
Some foods contain the building blocks of mood enhancing amino acids. When these cross the blood-brain barrier, neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are released into the body, resulting in a calmer you. Most serotonin is found in the digestive system to aide in digestion. The rest, however, is found in the neurons of the central nervous system, which allows the serotonin to help regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
So what are these amino acids, and which foods contain them?
So, which carbs are the best to release insulin for tryptophan success?
Complex Carbohydrates- For better overall health, choosing the slower releasing carbs, complex carbohydrates, are the best way to go. Foods such as oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, and sweet potatoes allows for less of a sugar spike, which should result in a longer lasting effect of the serotonin once released in the body.
What is Cortisol and how does it affect your body-
Cortisol is a steroid hormone called a glucocorticoid, which is produced in the adrenal glands, found on top of each kidney. It is released during times such as stress, exercise, and when there is a “danger” afoot. When there are high levels of cortisol in the body, and the brain thinks there is a “danger”, it can link up with epinephrine to release the “fight or flight” mechanism. This allows for a sudden burst of energy, or “panic mode” to help a person if they needed to run away faster, or to provide an increase of strength. With those who suffer anxiety and panic attacks, the brain can be fooled to think there is a “danger”, based on fear, and the body kicks in this burst of energy. The brain thinks it is helping the body, but, for those of us who have experienced this, it is far from a good feeling.
Can foods help combat high levels of Cortisol?
Absolutely! Prolonged increase of cortisol levels can result in not only anxiety, but adrenal fatigue as well. You can help combat this by increasing your vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, and omega-3's. (spinach, kale, broccoli, citrus fruits, salmon, walnuts, wheat germ, beans and barley.)
Nutrients you may be deficient in-
Let’s face it. Stress can drain your body of important nutrients, and we can end up becoming deficient in some, therefore, enhancing anxiety. Here are some of the key nutrients we should try to keep in our daily diet to avoid worsening anxiety.
-B-vitamins (green leafy vegetables)
-Calcium (dairy, kale)
-Vitamin C (citrus fruits, kale, broccoli)
-Magnesium (dark leafy greens, nuts, fish, beans)
-Tryptophan (turkey, milk, asparagus)
-Vitamin D (dairy, sun exposure)
-Folic Acid (wheat germ, lentils, dark green vegetables, citrus fruits)
If you notice with the above list, increasing the amount of green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, citrus fruits and dairy should help increase the nutrients you may be lacking. Help replenish your body with healthy whole foods, and try to stay away from processed foods, since the additives and preservatives can further keep the body down.
Stay healthy and get healthier from the inside out.
(Stay tuned for some upcoming healthy stress and anxiety reducing meal ideas!!)
Love and peace.. XO
Michelle has a BS, E-RYT, YACEP, CHN, CLYL, and Y12SRL.