According to the World Health Organization’s scientific brief, the global prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depression increased by almost 25% post-COVID period. Women and young people were disproportionally more at risk compared to other groups.
As we already know, it is important to take special care of your physical and mental health during stressful times. What we eat can strongly impact how we feel emotionally and physically.
An essential component to a healthy lifestyle, includes a balanced diet composed of all the nutrients essential for a fully functioning immune system, optimal growth, and recovery of all of our cells and bodily tissues. The types of foods we choose to eat impacts our mood, energy level and overall well being each and everyday. For instance, certain foods have been found to help reduce stress and anxiety, while others can leave you feeling sluggish and/or jittery.
Let’s look at some specific foods that lower stress and anxiety levels.
A cup of steaming tea can truly feel therapeutic. But what about the health benefits? Does tea contribute to your health in any way? The answer is yes! Along with being an excellent detoxifier, some herbal teas help combat headaches and gastrointestinal disorders. As a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants, some herbal teas such as valerian and gotu kola, have been found to have a positive effect in lowering GAD (general anxiety disorder).
One study found that Chamomile tea can help reduce symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorders. A few other herbal teas found to support reducing stress and anxiety are passion flower, lemon balm and decaf green tea.
In addition to tasting delicious and decadent, dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher), has a number of health benefits, including being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, like zinc, iron, phosphorus and magnesium.
One study found that cocoa can help reduce cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. The cocoa in dark chocolate can augment brain and heart function. The darker the chocolate, the richer its nutrient content.
One of the best foods for anxiety relief are avocados. Many health practitioners consider this fruit a superfood because it is power-packed with various essential nutrients, like B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and a compound called beta- sitosterol, which has been found to reduce anxiety in mice.
Among the various foods that can lower stress and anxiety, are ones that increase the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on your brain. Foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid necessary to produce serotonin, are salmon, turkey, eggs, low sugar dairy products, nuts and seeds.
When you are under stress, your body will process vitamin C to produce cortisol. Eating more citrus fruits rich in vitamin C, thiamine, and folate can help supply your body with the nutrients it needs to respond to stress more effectively. Another property of citrus fruits that help to reduce stress and anxiety is the scent.
A number of studies using citrus aurantium aroma to treat anxiety have been very positive. Using citrus scented (orange or lemon) essential oils can be a practical and effective approach to easing stress and anxiety.
Including these foods in your diet cannot only help support overall well being but also help in keeping anxiety and stress levels under control. However, if you have any questions, always consider consulting a professional dietician or nutritionist before making any substantial changes to your diet.
Looking for expert nutrition guidance? Schedule a nutrition consultation at Living Proof NYC. Our nutritionist Lisa Jubilee is a registered dietician-nutritionist with years of experience and knowledge. She has worked with countless clients to provide personalized, science-backed nutrition plans for a variety of health concerns. Request an appointment to get started on your journey toward optimal wellness.