Living with anxiety can be difficult. Your brain seems to be against you and creates scenarios about what may or may not happen and throws your body into chaos. Your stomach might tingle or become upset, and worry and nervousness dominate your thinking. If you have an anxiety disorder, your anxiety could increase and turn into a full-blown panic attack.
Talking to your doctor is the best way to decide how to manage your anxiety. However, in addition to advice from a professional, you might also consider changing your diet. Studies have shown certain foods can help you manage or reduce anxiety symptoms. Below are some foods that will help you manage anxiety naturally.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in different fish and nuts. They protect your body against inflammation but have also been shown to increase your ability to cope with stress and improve your mood. Fish that are high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, and mackerel. You can also get your daily dose of these essential nutrients in walnuts, avocados and olive oil.
We don’t produce tryptophan naturally in our bodies, so to get this amino acid into our systems, we have to eat foods that contain it. Tryptophan helps manage anxiety by assisting with the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that balances our mood. Tryptophan can also promote better sleep, which helps reduce anxiety. Foods that are high in this amino acid include turkey, chicken, cheese, peanuts — including peanut butter — milk and fish, among others. To ensure your body is absorbing the tryptophan effectively, you’ll also want to consume complex carbs.
Consuming complex carbohydrates helps increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which — as mentioned previously — helps balance your mood. Complex carbs are higher in minerals, fiber, protein, and vitamins than simple carbs, so they are better for your body. Foods that are rich in complex carbs include 100 percent whole-grain pasta and bread, whole-grain oats, brown rice, and quinoa.
Like tryptophan and complex carbohydrates, B vitamins help your brain release serotonin. B vitamins include folate, B1, and B12. There are numerous benefits to taking B vitamins that extend beyond anxiety management, including helping your body create red blood cells and new cells. Foods rich in B vitamins include meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, cereal and dark leafy greens.
There are so many reasons to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day, and balancing your mood is one of them. Not drinking enough water could cause headaches, disorientation, low energy, muscle cramps and the feeling that you’re always hungry. While everyone’s needs vary when it comes to how much water you should drink daily, there are some averages, including approximately 11.5 cups of fluid for women and 15.5 cups of fluid for men.
There are some other ways to manage your anxiety naturally, including taking supplements such as lemon balm, valerian root or passion flower extract. These reduce anxiety or have a sedative effect, which could help you sleep. If you’re not getting enough B vitamins in your diet, you might also consider taking supplements of those.
Exercising is another natural way to help you reduce your anxiety. The benefits of exercise are numerous, including increased self-esteem, being good for your heart and releasing endorphins. Endorphins are hormones released by your brain that activates opiate receptors, which create an analgesic effect. If you’re looking for a way to work out and to calm your mind, try taking a yoga class.
Getting enough sleep is also a great, natural way to reduce anxiety. When you are stressed or anxious, your body is working too hard, so it needs time to recuperate and heal. Getting approximately seven to nine hours of sleep each night will help reduce your anxiety. You might have to rework your sleep schedule to fit in enough rest, but your health and well-being are worth it.
Eating specific foods can help you manage and reduce your anxiety. However, certain foods can also increase or make it harder for you to manage your anxiety. If possible, try to avoid the foods listed below to keep you from being overly stressed and worried.
If you’re already feeling jittery from anxiety, adding caffeine on top of that will increase the symptoms. It can also take up to eight hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, so that could impact your sleep habits, and not get enough rest affects your anxiety.
Instead of drinking coffee, try tea instead. It contains L-theanine, an amino acid that induces a calming sensation. It may also contribute to the formation of gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is another amino acid that reduces anxiety. Some tea has caffeine, so you’ll need to be cautious about how much you drink, but you can also find varieties that are caffeine-free.
It may feel like alcohol relaxes and calms you, but it’s not helping you in the long run. It has been shown that alcohol changes the amount of serotonin in your brain. Since serotonin is responsible for altering your mood, once the alcohol wears off, you may feel worse than you did before drinking. It also affects your sleep patterns, which impacts your anxiety.
Simple Carbohydrates and Sugars
Unlike complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates and sugars won’t make you feel better by eating them. These are found in foods like cookies, candy, soda, ice cream and energy drinks, among others. Consuming these foods will make you feel better for a while, but then they will crash your energy levels and mood, potentially leaving you feeling worse and more exhausted than you did before.
Living with and managing anxiety can seem like an impossible task. Anxiety can affect your daily routine and make life challenging. However, there are natural ways to combat anxiety, and eating specific foods might set you on the path to feeling better.
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