Feeling anxious is normal in a fast paced world where most of us are racing against time to get our daily chores and trying to juggle our personal life at the same time. Levels of anxiety felt can vary in severity from person to person, and can even reach the height of panic attacks for some. Luckily, what you eat can help you maintain your zen and keep calm when life gets the best of you.
Foods rich in tryptophan will have a positive effect on your stress levels, as tryptophan is a precursor to the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin. You will find tryptophan in a variety of foods; including banana, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, fish, oats, and beans.
Magnesium is another micronutrient known to regulate the nervous system and keeps the serotonin flowing, ultimately modulating any anxiety you might be experiencing. The main role magnesium plays in mood improving is by allowing the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, oats, and avocados are the richest sources of magnesium.
Your mood is also heavily affected by your intake of the B-vitamin complex. Each one of the B-vitamins is essential for proper brain function, and deficiencies have been strongly associated with anxiety and depression, not to mention chronic fatigue. Read our B-vitamins cheat sheet to find out how you can get enough of the 8 vitamins in your diet. Generally speaking, eating a variety of natural colors throughout the day from various plant based foods will ensure you are getting enough B-vitamins. If you are following a plant based or vegan diet it is important that you take a vitamin B12 supplement, as B12 is only found in animal products.
Are you one to make a cup of coffee to help you battle task oriented anxiety? If so, this may actually be doing you a lot more harm than good. The ‘coffee buzz’ we all enjoy can trigger a spiral of heightened sensations, and in extreme cases panic attacks (in vulnerable people). This applies to any drinks high in caffeine, including energy drinks, soft drinks, and tea or coffee. Next time you are anxious and want a drink to keep you calm, make an herbal tea instead.
Your water intake is another important factor to look at if you suffer from regular anxiety. Many studies have found that dehydration affects as many as 25% of those with persistent stress or more, and even milk dehydration is known to cause more anxiety. Always have a bottle of water with you everywhere you go (on your desk, in your car, and on your bedside table) and take regular sips throughout the day to make sure you are well hydrated. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink, as this is a sign your body is already in dehydration mode.
What you eat throughout the day has a big affect on your anxiety and stress levels, regardless of how your day is going. If you are eating well, you will be much more ready to handle life’s daily stresses better.