May 14th 2022
We live in stressful times.
Whether it’s work, adjusting to post-pandemic life, or the state of the world that’s getting you down, there’s no shame in feeling anxious time to time.
As one of the most common mental health conditions in the world, the NHS say that anxiety can impact up to 5% of the UK population.
The good news is, there’s plenty of things you can do to try and tackle anxious feelings, from talking to your GP about treatment options to practising mindfulness.
Alongside other treatment methods like talking therapy or medication, you can implement lifestyle changes that can not only help your overall health, but also have the potential to improve your mental health too.
According to Karine Patel, Registered Dietician and Nutritionist for Dietitian Fit & Co, there are a number of foods that can help aid you in your journey to reduce stress and anxiety.
So, what are these six super-foods?
Yoghurt is great for your mind, but more specifically, types that contains live probiotics (a type of healthy bacteria).
‘Having a higher level of healthy gut bacteria could be linked to improved mental health,’ Karine told Metro.co.uk.
This is because, she said, more healthy gut bacteria can help ‘increase production of ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is mainly found in our digestive system.
She added, ‘Although further research is needed, there is some emerging evidence to show how probiotics can support the gut-brain-axis, which is the link between the gastrointestinal tract and our brain.’
Did you know that levels of inflammation can be higher in people with anxiety disorders?
This is why foods like Brazil nuts, which contain selium, can be helpful – because selium is a mineral that reduces inflammation.
‘However, it is important not to consume too much selenium,’ Karine added.
‘3-4 brazil nuts a day will provide you with more than the recommended 400mcg dose.’
According to Karine, eggs contain two key things that can improve our mental health: Vitamin D, and the amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan is needed to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, meaning that the more tryptophan, the more chance we have of producing that all-important feel-good transmitter.
Meanwhile, egg yolks are also a good source of Vitamin D — and as Karine points out, studies show that people with anxiety and depression tend to have lower levels of Vitamin D.
‘To support Vitamin D levels, supplementation and sunlight exposure are generally recommended to meet requirements, though please speak to your healthcare professional first,’ she added.
Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but as Karine points out, it also contains antioxidants called flavonols.
This, Karine said, is important, due to research showing that flavonols can enhance your mood and increase blood flow to the brain, which helps to make you less anxious.
She added that it’s recommended to eat dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, so ditch milk varieties if you’re looking for a healthy boost.
I hope you like fish! According to Karine, sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids called acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Not only that, but sardines also high in Vitamin D.
‘These nutrients may help regulate brain chemical messengers dopamine and serotonin which have been associated with lower rate of depression and anxiety,’ Karine explained.
She also added that salmon and trout are a good substitute to sardines if these are a little too fishy for you.
It’s no wonder we all love avocado on toast now — it’s full to the brim with goodness.
‘Avocado is a good source of potassium, Vitamin B and Magnesium, which have all been linked to play a role in reducing anxiety symptoms,’ Karine explained.
‘Potassium helps regulate processes with the brain and neurons, and a deficiency may cause nervousness and anxiety.
‘Vitamin B plays a role in production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, and a lack of vitamin B may increase the risk of anxiety symptoms.
‘Finally, magnesium is responsible for the body’s response to stress. Adequate intakes of has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels.’
So, there you have it. Six foods that can help you in your journey for a less stressful and anxious life.
‘We would like to highlight that food cannot treat anxiety and is not a substitute for other treatments,’ Karine told Metro.co.uk.
‘However, of course, certain foods may help reduce severity of symptoms by supporting brain function and mental well-being, alongside medication and therapy.’