As the world continues to adjust to Covid, anxiety is understandably at ahigh. The stress that accompanies social restrictions and general uncertainty is best managed through diet, exercise and self-care such as meditation and breathwork to instil balance. Nutrition is just as crucial for mental health as physical well-being. While getting your greens in won’t necessarily prevent the feeling of overwhelm, a balanced diet rich in whole foods increases your ability to cope.
Of the plethora of diets, the Mediterranean remains a favourite for its high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil and low-fat dairy, which boosts overall health, and is also thought to be an effective way to prevent anxiety. Foods to avoid, rather unsurprisingly, include anything processed or containing refined carbs or added sugar. Alcohol, caffeine, diet soda and soy sauce also make the black list.
That being said there are a variety of pantry staples which can help induce calm by stabilising blood sugar and repairing gut microbiota. One study indicated that 95 per cent of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, and there’s growing evidence that our lifestyle choice directly impacts levels of anxiety.
Here’s what a typical day of eating might look like incorporating top tension-reducing foods:
Yoghurt and berries provide brain-benefiting probiotics and studies indicate that they help to lessen anxiety, balance mood and enhance the ability to better handle stress. Blueberries contain vitamin C and antioxidants and have also been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
A cup of green tea also works wonders to combat work-related stress in the morning, thanks to amino acid L-theanine which has proven to ease anxiety one to three hours after consuming 200 milligrams.
Greens and protein make a winning anxiety-busting combination. Spinach in particular has both anti-anxiety and anti-depressive properties, while the antioxidants found in kale have been known to curb that edgy feeling. Other greens high in antioxidants and vitamin C include cabbage, lettuce and Swiss chard. Pair with healthy fats and protein such as avocado (rich in vitamin B which is believed to reduce work-induced stress) and turkey (famously high in calming tryptophan).
If you find yourself peckish during the day, almonds are a great snack to have on hand and contain ample magnesium to nix any uneasiness.
Fish is key for an anti-anxiety diet. While sea bass, shrimp and sardines are great for lowering inflammation, and levels of anxiety, salmon is king when it comes to combating nervous energy. It’s rich in omega-3s, vitamin D to support brain health and feelings of panic.
Have a sweet tooth? Finish with dark chocolate and chamomile tea. You heard us right, chocolate! Studies show that eating 1.5 ounces daily for two weeks substantially lowers stress levels. We’ll happily put this one to the test…
Exclusively for THIA Wellness By @Stephanie Shiu.