In a world where stress and anxiety seem to lurk around every corner, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a little bit of relief in the foods we eat? Imagine having a secret stash of superfoods that not only satisfy your taste buds but also work their magic on your mind. Incorporating certain foods into your daily routine can provide essential nutrients and compounds that promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. Let us explore such superfoods to reduce anxiety.
As Health Shots reached out to fitness and nutrition expert Rohit Shelatkar, he explained that stress and anxiety are brought on by the body’s increased cortisol production in people. During these moments, people often eat excessive amounts of processed, sweet, and salty meals. While these high-fat foods may temporarily improve our mood and stimulate the pleasure centers of our brains, they ultimately cause more harm than good and increase our susceptibility to depressive and anxious states. “Caffeine, processed meats, and foods high in sugar can all raise cortisol levels and make anxiety symptoms worse,” says Shelatkar. Apart from protein, vitamins, there are some superfoods that help in reducing anxiety and many-body problems like stress, depression and fatigue.
Blueberries are not only delicious but also packed with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which have been shown to have stress-reducing effects. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are associated with anxiety disorders. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science showed that blueberry supplementation improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in young adults. Adding a handful of blueberries to your diet daily can provide a natural boost to your mental health.
Fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). “Omega-3 fats are linked to improving oxidative stress and controlling anxiety by improving brain functions,” says Shelatkar. Consuming salmon regularly can provide a natural source of these omega-3 fatty acids and contribute to a calmer state of mind. Walnuts and flaxseeds are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and can be added to diet to reduce anxiety.
Bananas are a good source of magnesium. A 2004 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that magnesium supplementation may improve mood. One large banana includes 37 mg of magnesium that helps in lowering blood pressure. “Banana helps in maintaining a lower heart rate and also helps in controlling anxiety, restlessness and mood swings,” says Shelatkar.
The nutrition expert explains that whole grain complex carbohydrates prevent you from feeling down by providing a slow release of energy into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates in the brain are known to increase the levels of serotonin, sometimes referred to as the “happy hormone.” To maintain your energy and happiness, ensure that each significant meal is spaced out and contains oats, whole wheat, quinoa, barley, or other whole grains.
The highest concentrations of vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, which also aid in stress management. “Vitamin C has been demonstrated to lessen emotional and physical stress, likely by lowering cortisol levels,” says Shelatkar. The hormone cortisol, also known as the ‘Fight or Flight’ hormone, is released when under stress and has been connected to a number of medical disorders.
A systematic review published in Nutrients in 2017 assessed the impact of legume consumption on markers of mental health. The review indicated that legume consumption may have a positive effect on reducing anxiety and improving mood due to their nutrient composition. Chickpeas, lentils, beans, and other legumes contain antioxidants, vitamin B6 and magnesium. They can be used as an alternative to red meat in sautés and stir-fry recipes because they are protein-rich powerhouses.
While foods alone cannot cure anxiety disorders, incorporating them into your diet can be a valuable addition to your overall anxiety management strategy. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive approach to managing anxiety, but don’t underestimate the power of nourishing your body with these anxiety-reducing superfoods. By taking care of your diet and embracing a holistic lifestyle, you can take significant steps towards achieving a calmer and more balanced state of mind!
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