Foods That Can Reduce Anxiety and Stress

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With this article we will provide information about various foods, drinks (often teas) and others (vitamins, minerals and supplements) that can help reduce your anxiety.

I am writing about what you should and should not take. If you eat bananas (which contain potassium, below) for your anxiety then that is good, but it can be counteracted if you are also taking caffeine, which is bad. Thus, it is important to know both.

Antioxidants

As explained more fully below, antioxidants can reduce anxiety. It can be obtained by swallowing vitamin tablets, or by eating various beans, berries and other items found in this list.

Avoid sugary and starchy foods

These types of foods can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket, leading to increased anxiety. Unfortunately, most comfort foods are of this type, so you will have to say goodbye to Twinkies.

Also avoid processed foods. Processed foods have a high GI (glycemic index), which means that foods are converted to energy very quickly. This can be good for exercise and other activities, but it can wreak havoc on those who have SAD (social anxiety disorder).

Omega-3 fatty acids

If you have a mental or physical condition that needs treatment then omega-3 fatty acids can very well be a recommended treatment. It seems to be one of a handful of panaceas. There have been innumerable studies proving the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids for anxiety, including this one which shows that a diet lacking in it can especially affect teenagers.
You can obtain this from eating fish (especially herring and salmon), beef from grass-fed cows, chicken meat from flax seed fed chickens, eggs, and cereals made with flax seed.

Paleo diet

This is various foods and drinks that are–depending on your viewpoint–about 10,000 years old, or was introduced in 1975 by Walter Voegtlin and made more popular in the last 15-20 years. It was Google’s most searched-for word or phrase for weight-loss in 2013. Regardless, because there is a variety of things that make up this diet, it can be “copied-pasted” for various needs.

For anxiety, an extensive article did recommend the paleo diet because it can contain omega-3 fatty acids (from fish and seafood), probiotics, bone broth, zinc and magnesium. The article also advised against using caffeine and seed oils. Much of the information in that article is information that has been verified in other articles, as well as included in this one.

Potassium

Good sources are fresh fruits and vegetables (especially avocadoes, bananas, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables), juices from these, seaweed, nuts and dark chocolate.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan has been show to create a calming effect. It can be obtained by eating oats, nuts, dried egg whites, dried spirulina, raw soybeans and others.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

When people want to escape their problems, they often turn to alcohol, and alcohol certainly does relax the body and mind. However, more than that, alcohol is a depressant and can make your mood worse. It may be a short-term gain, but a long-term harm to your mind and body.

You should also avoid various oils. Of course, you do not drink oils (you eat it from eating salads and other items) but I am including them here because they are liquids. You should avoid nut or seed oils that have not been cold-pressed, canola oil, refined oils, and olive oil.

Teas

Some teas or herbs that have been repeatedly mentioned to reduce stress and anxiety are valerian, chamomile, passion flower, green tea, lavender and St. John’s wort. Valerian root can be quite potent and too much of it can create lethargy, and it should not be given to children under 12 years of age. These herbs or teas should be steeped for 5-10 minutes

Kava tea is world-renowned for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Supplements of kava have been banned in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, after there was evidence linking it to liver failure, but WebMD indicates that it may have been a result of how and where (using the whole kava plant, instead of just the root) it was used. Regardless, it is very potent, and it is not advisable to drive after taking kava.

Water

Drink a sufficient amount (a good rule of thumb is to drink enough to cause you to urinate every three hours). A lack of water, or dehydration, can make you feel tired, fatigued and irritable, which can result in anxiety.

Antioxidants (specifically vitamins A, C and E). One source merely says that these merely can detoxify your body and help reduce anxiety. More beneficially and pertinently, however, a study published in the National Institutes of Health showed that these reduced the levels of anxiety in patients, and that the reduction was significant when used in conjunction with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.

GABA

There apparently is no conclusive proof that GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) treats anxiety, but the consensus is that it is better to take it than not to take it. It is usually a supplement, but can also be found in roquefort cheese, parmesan cheese, soy sauce and walnuts.

Magnesium

WebMD says that there is insufficient evidence for magnesium supplementation decreasing anxiety, but this report in Psychology Today seems to disprove that. Furthermore, it shows that a lack of magnesium often results in many side effects and when magnesium is taken then those side effects usually disappear. The article does caution against its use for people with a poorly functioning kidney.

Potassium

As with magnesium, low levels of potassium can result in mental fatigue, stress and anxiety. Take this as a supplement (the recommended dosage is 3,500mg per day) or in various foods (above).

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Martin Nance
Hello, I am Martin Nance. I have recently retired after a lifetime of working as a pharmacist. I now live with my wife in Texas. In my 37 years of helping people manage medications and health, I know the meaningful impact a trusted pharmacist can bring to people's lives. I still love helping people and hope to provide information that can protect and help people in need.