Everyone of us experiences anxiousness for several reasons. For some, it may be work-related such as an impending due date for a presentation, or school-related like an unannounced graded pop-quiz. Whatever the reason may be, being anxious is never a good feeling. It’s an unpleasant state of inner turmoil and nervous behavior accompanied with the feeling of dread over something unlikely to happen. Most of the time our responses to certain situations are reasonable, and thus prepare us to cope with stress or danger. However, it may also come out as an exaggerated response that could hinder our daily life.
There are many methods in overcoming anxiety. They include the use of medication, behavioral therapies and changes in diet and lifestyle. Living in a world where people take medication for just about anything seems to be the go-to solution for almost everyone. Medication can be very useful if used appropriately, however, it can also lead to long-term dependency and may even cause unpleasant side-effects.
Changing your diet and lifestyle may not be the easiest, but it’s the safest way to relieve anxiety and stress. There are foods that help reduce anxiety, but there are also some that may even contribute to its aggravation. Examples of these are fried foods, unrefined sugars and alcoholic beverages. Below are some of the foods that improve happiness and reduce stress that triggers anxiety.
- Avocados – consists of stress-relieving B vitamins, which promote healthy nerves and cells. Avocados are also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which lower blood pressure.
- Acai Berries – these newly acclaimed superfoods are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Blueberries – considered also as a superfood rich in vitamins and phytonutrients, and is considered beneficial in relieving stress.
- Peaches – contains nutrients that have a sedation (calming) effect
- Oranges – is rich in vitamin C, which lowers blood pressure and the stress hormone known as cortisol.
- Asparagus – this boosts the mood with it’s special ingredient- folic acids.
- Spinach – has magnesium that regulates cortisol levels, resulting in a comforting effect and reduced bloating..
Whole Grain Foods
Whole grain foods — like brown rice, whole wheat breads and pastas — are the best sources of carbohydrates, which are responsible for increasing serotonin production in the brain. Whole grains take longer for the body to break down, making the calming effect lasts longer. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have found that eating whole grains at breakfast can keep blood sugar level stable for 10-hours, leading to improvement in concentration and memory.
These underrated nuts contain zinc, which is a key ingredient in maintaining a balance mood. Almonds are also packed with magnesium, which help convert carbohydrates, protein, and fat into energy, leaving you stronger and energetic.
Chocolate is also a great food in lessening anxiety and stress. It has a mild temporary stimulating effect, because of the emotional response it invokes, as well as the mild caffeine it contains. With the added sugar content, it triggers the feel-good hormone serotonin, and the fat and phenylethylamine it contains leads to endorphin release, which leads to a feel-good sensation.
Seaweed has the same benefits found in whole grains. This is a good alternative for those individuals who are gluten-sensitive. Aside from being rich with nutrients, it also has a high magnesium content, which lowers high blood pressure. It also has tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin upon entering the bloodstream. This helps elevate moods, calming the mind and promotes a healthy sleep cycle.
A diet rich with omega-3 fatty acids helps cortisol and adrenaline to normalize when you’re feeling tense. Based on a study from the Ohio State University, taking just 12 to 15-ounces of salmon can reduce anxiety and stress by more than 20%. It is advisable to include foods high in omega-3 fatty acids to reduce anxiety level.
Some researchers believe that tryptophan, found in turkey, has a positive effect on stress. It helps the brain to produce feel-good chemicals that lessen anxiety. Tryptophan, which turns into serotonin once it enters the bloodstream, is a neurotransmitter that triggers the feeling of calmness, making our brains work faster and be more effective in handling complex mental problems.
Milk is a time-tested remedy for insomnia and fidgetiness. Milk is high in antioxidants, vitamin B2 and B12, as well as calcium and protein. Whey, the protein found in milk, provides a calming effect by means of lowering blood pressure, while potassium helps relieve muscle spasms triggered by anxiety.
David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He specializes in health, wellness, diet and exercise, and he is also a weekly writer for Healthline.