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Diet & Nutrition
Mental & Emotional Health

Natural Anti-Anxiety Food Solutions

Anxiety disorders are one of the top mental health issues in the United States, affecting about 18 percent of the population, and not surprisingly – given our always on, wired and stressed out lives – anxiety-related health issues continue to be on the increase.

Stress, lifestyle (including diet), hormone changes (perimenopause and menopause; aging) and simply one’s own biochemistry are all elements of how a given individual “deals” with life. Do they feel calm, relaxed and worry-free? Or do they suffer from constant worry, poor sleep and constant cravings?

Anxiety symptoms should always be discussed with your doctor or a therapist, in case there are underlying medical concerns. But in most people, simple lifestyle changes can help. Nutrition in particular is being considered in psychiatry as a factor in treating mental health concerns.

Anti-Anxiety Lifestyle Changes

The traditional “Western diet” (processed, refined and sugary foods) has been linked to increased levels of anxiety and depression compared with those eating a “Mediterranean-style diet “(few processed foods; more vegetables, healthy proteins and fats).  The reason? The nutrients absorbed in a healthy, whole foods diet are those that best serve your body and brain.

Exercise, sleep, stress management and food related stress triggers (alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and food allergens such as gluten or dairy) should all be evaluated. Your doctor should look at your digestive health and possible hormone imbalances (low progesterone is often the culprit in anxiety).

Eating regularly is as important as what you eat. Skipping meals can trigger insulin changes that can affect your mood. Dehydration, too, can cause anxiety.

There are also many nutrients in natural foods affecting the brain’s natural “mood control”.

Anti-Anxiety Foods

Your brain uses proteins and nutrients in the food you eat to do a wide array of physiological tasks.  Proteins are made up of amino acids, and amino acids – along with key vitamins and minerals – make neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters transmit impulses throughout your body’s nervous system and play a huge role in mental functioning, and thus, in one’s mood.

The two major neurotransmitters that play the greatest role in mood and anxiety are serotonin and GABA.

If you are living a healthy, low stress life-style and eating a whole food, balanced diet with healthy proteins, it is likely that your body has the balance it needs with its natural production of serotonin and GABA. However, if you are not getting the key nutrients, sleep and other “brain benefits” from your lifestyle, or you are experiencing some short-term stressor, making changes to your diet may offer some anxiety relief.