Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults, which is about 18% of the US adult population, with research suggesting that nearly 30% of American adults will qualify for an anxiety disorder diagnosis at some point in their lives.
I met many people in my life that struggle with anxiety, and are taking medications to manage it for the quick fix as they need to function: function in their family life, work life, among their friends.
Instead of understanding the underlying cause where the feeling comes from and understand it, they are reaching to the pill pot. However, with that mindset, it doesn’t fix the root of the problem. We know today that the body is interconnected. That we have two brains that need to live in harmony – the gut and the brain. If they are not singing the same song, then popping pills will not fix it and just delay the healing and will cause a bigger issue further down the line.
As a big believer that food can help and heal, here is a list of 10 foods that are used to address the common underlying dysfunctions that contribute to anxiety:
Research has correlated an imbalance of zinc to copper with anxiety. This trace mineral ratio is responsible for proper neurotransmitter function and adaptation to stress. Increased copper and decreased zinc may lead to symptoms of anxiety.
I run trace mineral labs for my patients to see if this is a factor in their case. If it is, oysters are packed with zinc! This superfood of the sea is a great way to balance the proper trace mineral ratio and your stress levels. It’s also important to note that foods like grains and legumes contain phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that can bind to zinc and block its absorption.
2. Chamomile Tea
Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea was shown to significantly decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks! It is not everyone’s favourite – I am not a big fan of the tea bags in the supermarket – so I bought the actual flowers and add a bit of honey to it. The actual stuff makes a big difference as the taste is a more subtle. It is also helps to provide a great, deep sleep if you struggle from insomnia.
3. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos, or African red bush tea, is a delicious way to bring a natural calm to your day. Researchers are looking into its effect on cortisol. It seems to work by having a balancing effect on the body’s main stress hormone. Also great to create a Rooibos Vanilla latte to fancy it up a bit.
“We know today that the body is interconnected. That we have two brains that need to live in harmony – the gut and the brain.”
4. Full-Fat Kefir
The gut is considered the second brain because it’s home to 95% of your “feel good” hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, your gut’s health is essential to manage anxiety. So look after your gut and your gut will pay you back with happiness !
Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry, and kefir, an ancient fermented dairy drink, might just be the most powerful probiotic ever! It also has fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2, all important for brain health. If you don’t like kefir, discuss with a certified nutritionist which supplements you can add to your meals.
Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuroprotective quality and help enhance your mood. It was shown in a randomized controlled trial to be an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. So have this Turmeric Milk at night.
This superfruit is great for brain health and anxiety. They contain potassium which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados also contain beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are needed for neurotransmitter and brain health. Enjoy an Avocado Juice or have it as a side to your meal.
7. Dark Chocolate
Science has vindicated chocolate lovers everywhere. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed that people who drank a dark chocolate drink, equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day, felt calmer than those who did not. Emphasise on DARK chocolate ! Avoid the sugar filled chocoalate that will give you an insulin rush and then drop into nowhere’s land. This will have the opposite effect ! Have quality dark chocolate and have a cup at night (instead of the red wine) or a chocolate milk in the morning with your slice of bread with Avocado to keep you calm throughout the day.
This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid are linked to neurotransmitter impairment, which can lead to anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.
9. Leafy Greens
If you struggle with stress and anxiety increase the greens! Plant foods like Swiss chard and spinach are rich in magnesium, the natural “chill pill” to regulate the brain-adrenal axis.
10. Fatty Meat
Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats have been shown to decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon and grass-fed beef can help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.
This is a starter for 10 – hope you enjoy the list and there are some things that you can incorporate in your daily eating habits. I will add to the list as I continue my research to share the knowledge :) or if you know any other foods ! I would love to hear from you !!