Anxiety is a complicated emotion that millions suffer with in their lives on a day to day basis. While anxiety can take many forms and there is no easy one answer, even experts agree that diet and exercise can play a huge role in decreasing and even healing anxiety.
What we fuel our body with greatly affects our moods, hormones, energy level and emotions. A diet full of processed food and sugar can worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the body's ability to cope with stress. A sugar rush and subsequent crash can cause jittery shaking and tension which only makes anxiety symptoms worse.
On the other hand, a whole food diet rich in nutrients is a healthier option than eating a lot of simple carbohydrates found in processed foods. For example, complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and therefore help maintain a more even blood sugar level, which helps the body feel calmer and more relaxed.
There are many foods found to greatly reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety so definitely do your research to find more foods you love and can incorporate into your daily healthy lifestyle. Here are 5 of our favorite foods for soothing anxiety.
Chamomile tea not only reduces stress and anxiety, but it also helps treat insomnia. Just like peppermint tea, chamomile tea has great benefits in relaxing the muscles and reducing irritability. Dried chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita) were used as far back as Roman times for their calming effects.
There is also nothing more calming and relaxing than sitting with a hot cup of tea and using it as a time to pray, relax, rejuvenate and recharge the mind, body and soul. Make this a sacred time to spend in the presence of God reading your Bible or in prayer.
If you suffer from anxiety, yogurt is a great food to include in your diet. Often anxiety is caused because we don't feel well. Millions are struggling with digestive issues and because yogurt can heal the gut with the live cultures it can help to improve the affects of stress and anxiety.
Numerous studies have shown that probiotic foods like yogurt may promote mental health and brain function by inhibiting free radicals and neurotoxins which can damage the nerve tissues in the brain that are related to anxiety.
Organic plain with protein higher then 20 grams and sugar less then 10 grams is ideal. When we feel better it's easier to deal with feeling anxious and stressed.
3. Dark Chocolate
Because if there weren’t enough reasons to love chocolate, dark chocolate contains flavonols, which are antioxidants that may benefit brain function. Eating dark chocolate has also been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which may help reduce the stress that leads to anxiety.
In addition to these health benefits, when we eat a small amount of high cocoa chocolate it can satisfy our sweet tooth in a healthy way and we are less likely to binge on sweets that are high in sugar and can actually make anxiety worse.
The darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of cocoa it contains and the more polyphenols you'll consume per serving. When choosing a dark chocolate, look for one that is at least 70 percent cocoa or even darker, for instance, 85 percent cocoa. Of course it goes without saying that even dark chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation.
4. Fatty Fish
The brain is incredibly sensitive to inflammation, not the type you can feel but the type of inflammation that is below the perception of pain. So when the brain becomes inflamed, its only protection is adequate levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
There are many benefits of fish oil. it's been shown to help reduce inflammation, protect the heart, regulate blood pressure, and even help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. For those who suffer with their mental health, one of the most interesting benefits of fish oil is its effect on anxiety.
So how much daily intake of Omega-3 is ideal? Overall, most health organizations recommend a minimum of 250-500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults. Fatty fish such as salmon, lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna contain the most omega-3 fatty acids and therefore are the most beneficial but many types of seafood contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
It's good to mix up the type of fish you eat so give one you haven’t tried before a chance. Eating healthy is always more fun when you make it an adventure.
Looking for an easy delicious way to prepare fish in a pan in less than 10 minutes? Heat a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add your fish, sprinkle with cajun seasoning and organic dried dill. Cover and cook for 4 minutes. Flip, season the other side, cover and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. So easy and DELISH!
5. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts have the highest concentration of the trace mineral selenium. Eating just four grams will provide more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance and several studies have provided evidence that supplementing a diet with selenium can help improve mood. It has also been shown that people who lack this essential nutrient are more likely to be depressed.
Eating nuts can also satisfy the urge to snack providing an enjoyable crunch when feeling bored and tempted to grab something to eat. Keep a small bag packed in your purse or tote to avoid unhealthy options like fast food.
In addition to these five foods ensure you are getting plenty of rest, making self care a priority and staying properly hydrated.
While these five foods can greatly help to reduce stress and anxiety, there is nothing that can replace what can only be found in having a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate Prince of Peace. We were never meant to tackle life alone and we were not created to solely bear the burdens of our troubles. Lean on Him for strength. The Apostle Paul was a faithful follower of Jesus. When he prayed to be released from his weakness, he was reminded that in his weakness God’s grace was sufficient “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Never allow yourself to feel bad for feeling weak or struggling with stress and anxiety. The enemy wants you to hide and live in the shame darkness. Seek help from family, friends, your church or a Christian counselor. God loves you, please rest in that undeniable truth.
Michelle is the founder of Faithful Workouts and The Fresh Table. She began her fitness career in 1984 and still loves to help people break free from fitness frustration and move towards a life that's full of physical and spiritual health. Michelle is married to Jeff and they have three children PLUS two lovable dogs.