At some point in our lives, most of us experience anxiety and / or depression. Here are some foods that can help soothe those responses and bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit.
Herbs and Spices
Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea helps decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks. Drink a cup after dinner. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if you like.
It’s true! The Journal of Psychopharmacology has published a study revealing that people who eat about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (75% or more) per day, feel more calm than those who do not. Just be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine. Be sure to eat it before 3 p.m. to avoid it affecting your sleep.
Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuro-protective quality and help enhance your mood. These antioxidants are an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. Cook with turmeric powder when you can and take a supplement to support your dietary intake.
Oats are high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. They ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.
High Quality Meat and Fermented Dairy
Full-Fat Kefir & Yogurt
The gut is considered the "second brain" because it's home to 95% of your "feel good" hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, a healthy gut helps manage stress and reduce depression and anxiety. Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry. Kefir, an fermented dairy drink much like liquid yogurt, is a powerful pro-biotic, which contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K for brain health. If you prefer yogurt, choose the full-fat, unsweetened kind (I like Butter Works Farm or Brown Cow Brand). Add maple syrup and home-made granola for a delicious breakfast.
This delicious meat is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat has been proven to reduce anxiety. Choose antibiotic-free turkey whenever possible.
Grass-Fed Organ Meats
If you eat meat, grass-fed, organic organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients (like zinc and Vitamin D) needed to reduce anxiety. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for balancing the hormones that regulate mood. Cook chicken or beef liver with onions and purée it in the blender to make a delicious spread.
This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to neurotransmitter impairment and cause anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.
These fruits are wonderful for maintaining balanced brain health, thus reducing the stress that leads to anxiety and depression. They contain potassium, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich in beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the nervous system.
Those who feel stress and anxiety can increase intake of dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens. These plant foods are rich in magnesium, which helps us relax. It also regulates the connection between the brain and endocrine system so that we go out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into relaxation mode.
Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia and flax seeds, and winter squash can also help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.
Monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.
This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.
Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.
Coconut Avocado Smoothie
Place these ingredients in a blender:
½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
a pinch salt
½ can unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend well and enjoy!
Vegetable Walnut Cobbler
For the cobbler:
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 medium zucchini, chopped
1 packed cups of fresh spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper
For the topping:
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, and paprika
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil
1 cup milk of your choosing
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.
Pour the olive oil into a skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes Add spinach, turn off heat, stir well, and spread into baking dish.
Bake the vegetables for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.
For the topping, mix all ingredients together except butter / oil.
Cut butter / oil into chunks in the mixture and gently fold together.
Add milk, mix briefly to incorporate, and set aside.
Remove vegetables from oven, top with clumps of topping mixture, and bake for 20 minutes more.
Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!
GET CREATIVE: Use collards and sweet potatoes instead of spinach and zucchini.