Stress and anxiety affect approximately 40 million adults. (R) According to some newly released numbers in the American Psychological Association’s 2019 Stress in America survey, the average person is under moderate stress levels—coming in at 4.9 on a 10-point scale. Implementing some natural steps to combat stress and anxiety can help tremendously; unfortunately, only about one-third of those who suffer actually receive treatment. If you find yourself struggling, research indicates that by merely incorporating healthy foods that combat stress and anxiety into your everyday diet, you can tackle nutritional gaps that may be intensifying your anxiety and stress symptoms.
Your body produces about 95 percent of your serotonin in your gut. (R) This good bacteria dramatically affects your ability to produce it. Research indicates that those who have increased levels of good bacteria in their guts experienced lowered anxiety and stress and have improved mental attitudes. (R) When we use food as our medicine by including, in our diet, foods that reduce stress, we can manage stress and anxiety in non-toxic ways. Let’s take a look at 9 healthy foods that combat stress.
9 Healthy Foods That Combat Stress
When you experience anxiety and stress, your body desires vitamin C, which repairs and protects your cells. The health benefits of blueberries are many, and research indicates they are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, which research suggests can both prevent and reduce anxiety and stress. (R)
2. Nuts and Seeds
Seeds have fantastic health benefits and have stress-reducing benefits. Pumpkin seeds and cashews are rich in magnesium, which is excellent for a healthy nervous system. Sunflower seeds and chia seeds contain a good amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in producing serotonin and melatonin, which affect sleep and mood. It’s easy to add seeds to your favorite smoothie or salad.
Cashews contain many nutrients that can help reduce stress and are known to be an excellent source of magnesium, which plays an essential role in stabilizing energy levels as well as regulating the nervous system. They are also abundant in vitamin B6, which helps produce serotonin, which helps with mood.
Check out our recipe for Cinnamon and Cayenne Roasted Mixed Nuts.
4. Dark Chocolate
We all know that chocolate can release those feel-good chemicals located in the brain. It also falls into the comfort food category and tastes good; research has shown that dark chocolate can actually help calm you down. Dark chocolate is shown to improve vascular health by helping to increase blood flow and reducing inflammation. Check out our Healthy Chocolate Hummus Dessert Recipe.
Carrots are usually seen more like a beauty or fitness food; however, they are also said to be a powerful tranquilizer because they contain a natural pain-killer called phenylalanine. Lack of this hormone produced in the body is thought to cause anxiety, depression, and muscle or body aches.
Carrots also contain a high amount of magnesium, which is much needed by the nervous system for calm and relaxation. Magnesium deficiency is said to be the cause of some health concerns such as depression, panic attacks, confusion, cramps, muscular tension, and premenstrual syndrome, to name a few.
Carrots are also high in Vitamin B6, which helps with mood issues.
6. Leafy Greens
Most know that leafy greens are essential to good health. Did you know that most dark, leafy greens have the same amount or even more calcium than milk? Calcium is a required mineral that, in addition to supporting bone health, lowers your risk of high blood pressure. It also helps in the absorption of vitamin D, which encourages happiness. Spinach, kale, and collard greens are high in vital stress-reducing nutrients and minerals such as B-vitamins, which help with energy levels, regulate mood, and improve brain function.
7. Coldwater Fish
According to a study from Ohio University, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial when it comes to foods that help with anxiety. (R) A very healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and coldwater fish can help to keep cortisol levels from increasing when you’re feeling stressed and tense. Try using different types of spices and flavor combinations when cooking salmon. Sprinkle cold water fish with Himalayan salt, pepper, and a bit of organic garlic. You can also add some sprigs of rosemary and top with thinly sliced organic lemon.
8. Lemon Balm Tea
According to WebMD, “Early research shows that taking a single dose of lemon balm — also called Melissa officinalis L — increases calmness and alertness in adults under mental stress. (R) Other early research shows that adding lemon balm to a food or drink reduces anxiety and improves memory and alertness during mental testing.”
9. Oranges and Pink Grapefruit
The next time you feel that urge to reach for a sugary snack after experiencing a stressful day or event, how about grabbing a piece of citrus fruit instead. The aroma, vitamins, and antioxidants in oranges and pink grapefruit reduce stress levels and also boost your immunity. According to the University of Maryland, high doses of vitamin C, which both oranges and pink grapefruit contain, are proven to reduce both physical and mental responses to stress. A reminder that it’s best to eat the whole fruit rather than just drinking the juice. Not only do you get the juice, but also the fiber, which helps to minimize an insulin spike.
In Conclusion…Ditch the SAD
If you’ve never heard of SAD, it stands for the Standard American Diet, which is usually void of essential vitamins and nutrients. My best advice is to focus on eating healthy foods that combat stress and begin paying specific attention to how you feel when eating certain foods, both at the moment and the next day. Try consuming a “clean and healthy” diet for one month, especially eliminating all processed foods and refined sugar. Make a checklist of how you feel before and after eating a healthy diet. You can slowly introduce certain foods back into your diet, one by one, to see how you feel. However, if you see a big difference in how you feel, you may not want to go back to many of the foods you were consuming.
I’ve found that when clients “go clean and healthy,” they are astonished about how quickly they begin to feel better as well as their rising energy levels — both physically and emotionally. And when they try to reintroduce foods they were used to eating, how much worse they begin to feel. These two sentences are better than all the research available, in my opinion.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.