The Anti-Anxiety Diet You’ve Been Searching For
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That equates to 18% of the population who struggle with anxiety. Anxiety disorders can include panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A person has an anxiety disorder if he or she has persistent worry for more days than not, for at least several months.1 The good news is that there are numerous methods to support mental health.
In additional to following a healthy diet, drinking enough water and limiting alcohol and caffeine, there are numerous other dietary methods that can support mental health. Many studies say this is due to the gut-brain axis – where your gut bacteria influences your central nervous system function and has a positive impact on your mood, including depression and anxiety. One study performed by Griffith Universities School of Medical Science and Menzies Health Institute in Australia found that, in people with pre-clinical symptoms of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress, probiotic supplementation resulted in a statistically significant improvement in symptoms compared to individuals taking a placebo.
The Anti-Anxiety Diet Plan
According to Harvard Health’s Blog, in an article written by Uma Naidoo, MD, there are specific foods that have been shown to reduce anxiety –
Magnesium. “In mice, diets low in magnesium were found to increase anxiety-related behaviors. Foods naturally rich in magnesium may therefore help a person feel calmer.” This can include leafy greens (like spinach and Swiss chard), legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Magnesium is among the top five most abundant minerals in the body, assisting in over 300 chemical processes. It supports healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the body, helps maintain energy production and is a calming, anti-stress mineral.†
Zinc. “Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, cashews, liver, beef and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.” Zinc is an essential mineral required by the body to support the hair, skin and nails, the immune system and your senses.
In one study performed by the Health Research Institute at the Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Illinois, researchers reported low levels of zinc, possibly associated with oxidative stress has an anxiogenic effect – causing anxiety symptoms – and zinc supplementation “may help improve anxiety symptoms.”
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fish and other seafood are considered the best source of fats from the omega-3 family, including EPA and DHA. But most people do not get nearly enough omega-3 fats in their diet and, as a result, miss a significant opportunity to protect their heart, brain and manage inflammation throughout their body.
“A study completed on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3s may help reduce anxiety. The study results suggest that omega-3 supplementation can reduce inflammation and anxiety even among healthy young adults.”
Probiotics. “A recent study in the journal Psychiatry Research suggested a link between probiotic foods and a lowering of social anxiety. Study results suggest that consumption of fermented foods that contain probiotics may serve as a low-risk intervention for reducing social anxiety. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir was linked to fewer symptoms.”
B-Vitamins. Numerous studies suggest that B-complex vitamins can help to reduce fatigue and boost mood. Those going through periods of stress may have increased demand for B-vitamins, as it is involved in the production of stress hormones, meaning our bodies need more of it during times of high-stress. Foods rich in B-vitamins such as avocado and almonds.
CBD for Anxiety by Amanda Williams, MD, MPH
“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural, non- psychotropic chemical derived from the hemp plant. It works by enhancing the normal receptors found in the Endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a role in functions such as memory, appetite, immunity, sleep, metabolism, energy, reproduction and fertility.[i] As with all systems in our body, if the ECS is not producing enough of its own endocannabinoids to bind onto the many receptors found in our bodies, you may begin to notice some issues,” says Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, Director of Nutrition for InVite® Health.
“The health benefits of CBD oil can be quite broad. Consider the fact that you have endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the body. With that said, research on CBD use has focused primarily on brain health, but with each new study we are becoming increasingly aware of how beneficial it may be for supporting muscle, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, joint discomfort, anxiousness, inflammation and beyond.”
“Take for example, a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, where researchers concluded the following, “CBD acts in some experimental models as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic agent, and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia, respectively. The neuroprotective potential of CBD, based on the combination of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is of particular interest and is presently under intense preclinical research in numerous neurodegenerative disorders.”2
2. Fernández-Ruiz J, Sagredo O, Pazos MR, et al. Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2012;75(2):323-33.