5 Foods to Help Relieve Anxiety
by Ashleigh Feltham
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist
We all experience some level of anxiety from time to time. Did you know that the foods you eat in your diet can help relieve this anxiety? I am not talking about sitting down with a bar of chocolate and eating the whole thing out of stress but selecting specific foods to include in your diet to help manage the uncomfortable feelings associated with anxiety.
You may think anxiety is all in your brain when in fact it is also in your gut. Your gut plays a huge role in the amount of anxiety that you feel as 90% of the serotonin (the feel-good hormone) is found in your gut. Add to this, there is a direct link to your brain called the brain-gut axis which means you will feel immediately when your gut is not happy. The key to reducing anxiety is to look after both the health of your brain and your gut. Here are foods to include in your diet:
Safcol Salmon and Sardines
These two quality sources of fish are high in the polyunsaturated fat called omega 3 fat. This type of omega 3 fat is made up of DHA and EPA. Research has shown EPA and DHA can improve your mood by influencing the signals of specific neurotransmitters in your brain which determine your state of mind. In addition, both sources of fish contain the fat-soluble vitamin D which is also linked to a positive mindset and helps reduce feelings of anxiety. Omega 3 fat is also linked to reduced symptoms of depression as it may allow serotonin to pass more easily through your brain. For optimal health and mental wellness aim to include fish like Safcol salmon and sardines 2-3 times a week with 100g being a serve of fish.
Cooked and Cooled Whole Grain Rice
The cooking method matters because cooking and cooling the whole grain rice increases the amount of resistance starch. This type of fibre feeds the good bacteria in your gut. This good bacteria then produce short-chain fatty acids which help to reduce inflammation and support the function of organs throughout your body. Other good sources of resistance starch are potatoes, legumes, oats, Jerusalem artichokes and green bananas.
This fruit may surprise you for being on the list of foods which help reduce your anxiety. Pineapples have several nutrients which support your mood which include B vitamins like folate and vitamin C. Both these vitamins are important in supporting the health of your brain.
This nut is a fantastic source of selenium which helps to improve your mood. Selenium is also found in other foods like meat, fish, seeds, and whole-grain bread.
Serotonin is made from an essential amino acid called tryptophan. It is essential because your body cannot make it by itself and needs to obtain it from your diet. Other sources of tryptophan are cottage cheese, chicken, tofu, almonds, peanuts and Safcol salmon.
Take home message
Food has so much potential to improve your health and wellbeing. Try adding these 5 foods to your diet to reduce feelings of anxiety and optimise your quality of life.