5 foods to help reduce anxiety
Anxiety is likely to affect you at some point in your life, and for others, it’s a daily battle. There are different options available to treat and manage anxiety; therapy and medication can be very useful but so can your diet. Food doesn't just give us the energy to go about our day, but it controls much of how our bodies function. Food is one way in which we can supply the nutrients needed for maintaining normal chemical reactions in the body and the brain.
Green tea is a great option for caffeine sensitive people. While green tea still contains caffeine, its effects are blocked by other chemicals naturally present in the tea. Aside from the fantastic antioxidant properties of green tea, it also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels and reduce the level of anxiety felt. It has been used with great success as a pre-exam supplement to help calm overly anxious university students. The Complexion Tea is my go-to when I am after a green tea, it’s fruit, a little spicy and has a wonderful smooth green tea flavour.
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, fresh tuna and trout are rich in essential omega 3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are named as such because they can not be manufactured by the body, we must consume them through our diet. Several studies have found that omega 3 fatty acids can be particularly helpful when treating both depression and anxiety. It makes sense that omega 3 fats would be critical in treating mood disorders as these fats are needed to help form and repair the brain’s neuron pathways, connections and receptor sites.
Aim to include oily fish two to three times a week to ensure you are getting sufficient omega 3 fatty acids to keep your brain healthy. If you would like to use omega 3 fatty acids to help with depression or anxiety then speak to a natural healthcare provider, they can prescribe a high-quality supplement in the correct dose.
Oysters are a natural source of zinc, which is used by the body in many ways, but when it comes to the brain it is the ratio between zinc and copper that is important. This ratio determines how well the neurotransmitters function in the brain - if there is poor function this can lead to feelings of anxiety. If oysters are not appetising, then you can get your zinc from beef, lamb, liver, eggs, and nuts and seeds.
Making the switch from coffee to herbal tea is all it takes to reduce or eliminate anxiety in some people. If you notice an anxious, panicked feeling after drinking coffee then you should try switching to a lower caffeine alternative or caffeine free herbal tea. Caffeine triggers the production of adrenaline, so it is completely normal to feel anxious after having a coffee, and some people are more sensitive to this than others. Take some time away from drinking coffee to find out how it really affects your mood and overall feeling.
If you are looking for extra anxiety relief then you might like to try drinking the Siena Spice or Red Velvet tea during the day; both of these contain rooibos tea. Rooibos is naturally caffeine free and has been shown to have a calming effect on the production of cortisol - our main stress hormone.
Chamomile is a tried and true way to help reduce anxiety. Some people notice a difference after just one cup, but studies show that after 3 weeks of daily use chamomile can have a lasting effect on the level of anxiety felt . Chamomile has a lovely flavour and makes for a great pre-sleep tea, you can’t go wrong with a jar of Storm and India’s Organic Chamomile Blossom Tea. In my opinion, every household should have a jar on hand for times of stress, restless nights, and anxiety.
Dark Leafy Greens
We all know that green vegetables are good for us, but dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, watercress, parsley, and beetroot leaves are a great source of magnesium.
Magnesium is often called the ‘original chill pill’ - for many years magnesium was used to treat anxiety and depression without really knowing how it worked. It is now known that magnesium regulates the nervous system by suppressing the overproduction of stress hormones. Without sufficient magnesium, these hormones are made freely causing a massive increase in stress hormones and anxiety
Food is a great way to ensure you are getting absorbable magnesium, but you can also absorb magnesium through your skin. Magnesium salts are often used for tired or sore muscles, the magnesium allows the muscle fibres to relax and this reduces the pain and fatigue in the muscle. The magnesium absorbed through the skin doesn't just stop at the muscles, it continues moving around the body being used where it is needed. A once weekly magnesium bath is a fantastic way to top up your magnesium levels.
Words on Wellness by Jessica Gilijam-Brown
New Zealand based Holistic Nutritionist (BSc) @wellnessbyjessica