Foods That Help Ease Anxiety

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Certain foods like almonds, and herbs, such as chamomile, can benefit brain function and potentially relieve anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety, affecting 7.3% globally, encompasses various disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and phobias. It involves constant tension, worry, and nervousness, often needing medication as treatment. However, strategies like exercise and certain foods can support brain function and alleviate symptoms. Here are 9 science-backed foods and beverages for anxiety relief.

Here are 6 science-backed foods and beverages that may help ease anxiety.

1. Salmon

Salmon is beneficial for reducing anxiety due to its nutrients promoting brain health, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These nutrients regulate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, known for their calming properties. EPA and DHA reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction linked to anxiety. Studies show that vitamin D supplementation is associated with lower rates of negative mood disorders. Consuming salmon regularly can improve anxiety-related symptoms like heart rate variability. Aim to include salmon in your diet 2–3 times per week for maximum benefits.

2. Chamomile

Chamomile, an herb, may help reduce anxiety due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It's believed to regulate mood-related neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, as well as the body's stress response system. Studies show that chamomile extract can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of chamomile tea, which is more commonly consumed.

3. Tumeric

Turmeric, containing curcumin, is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may promote brain health and prevent anxiety disorders. Curcumin may prevent brain cell damage caused by chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Studies show that supplementation with curcumin, especially nano-curcumin, can significantly lower anxiety scores. While most studies focus on curcumin supplementation, incorporating turmeric into your diet may still be beneficial. Pairing turmeric with black pepper can enhance curcumin absorption. Further research is needed in this area.

4. Dark Chocolate

Incorporating dark chocolate into your diet may help ease anxiety due to its flavonols, which act as antioxidants and benefit brain function. Flavonols may increase blood flow to the brain and enhance cell-signaling pathways, aiding in stress adaptation. Additionally, the taste of dark chocolate can be comforting for those with mood disorders. Studies suggest that consuming dark chocolate may lower symptoms of depression and improve short-term mood. However, more research is needed to understand its long-term effects on anxiety and mood. Dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation due to its high calorie content. Aim for a 1- to 1.5-ounce serving at a time for best results.

5. Yogurt

Yogurt containing probiotics may improve mental health by supporting the gut-brain axis, reducing inflammation, and increasing the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin. Studies suggest that consuming probiotic yogurt is associated with improved anxiety, stress, and quality of life. However, more human trials are needed to fully understand the direct relationship between yogurt consumption and anxiety. Opt for yogurt with live active cultures to reap the benefits of probiotics.

While food can support mental health and alleviate anxiety symptoms, it's not a replacement for professional treatment. Incorporating whole, minimally-processed foods high in antioxidants, like salmon and dark chocolate, can complement therapy and medication to promote brain health and overall well-being.
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