Though they are located in different parts of the body, the brain and the gut are intricately connected. This means what you eat can have a significant impact on how you feel. Studies show 95% of the body’s serotonin, which is often referred to as the “happy chemical,” is made in the gut.1 When you eat nutritious foods that keep the gut balanced and healthy, you are less likely to become anxious and stressed. When you eat poorly, wreaking havoc on gut health, your anxiety levels go haywire.
Find out more about how nutrition affects your anxiety levels, how to reduce anxiety through nutrition, and other ways you can find support.
Is it True that Certain Foods Increase or Decrease Anxiety?
The connection between the gut and your mood means certain foods and dietary habits can increase or decrease your anxiety levels. For instance, eating a breakfast containing protein can help keep your blood sugar steady so that you have enough energy as you start your day. And drinking plenty of water can stave off dehydration, which also affects your mood. Meanwhile, too much sugar, caffeine, and processed foods can send your anxiety skyrocketing, and should be used minimally or not at all.
Other foods known to increase anxiety include:
- Highly processed foods like sugary treats, chips, processed meats, and ready-made foods high in preservatives
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fried foods
- Sugary drinks
- Highly caffeinated beverages like energy drinks, coffee, tea, and soda
Gut Health & Anxiety: Eating Well for Mental Health
In addition to steering clear of triggering foods, there is some evidence that the following types of foods can help keep your gut and your brain healthy and happy.
Foods that reduce anxiety fast and keep your gut healthy include:
- Magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
- Complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals
- Fatty fish like salmon, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, which are known to contain anxiety-busting omega-3s2
- Probiotic foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt3
- Foods rich in B vitamins, such as leafy greens, broccoli, avocados, potatoes, bananas, and almonds4
- Antioxidant-rich foods like berries, nuts, and beans5
- Turmeric, a spice often used in Indian cooking
- Foods high in vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, egg yolks, and fortified foods6
No harmful side effects.
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Nutritional Strategies to Ease Anxiety
What you eat is important, but so is when and how you eat. Along with eating a high-protein breakfast and hydrating often, the following nutritional strategies have been proven to help ease anxiety:
- Do not skip meals: Studies show 62% of people who identify as extreme dieters have depression and anxiety.7 Failing to eat enough can also negatively affect your ability to concentrate.
- Practice mindful eating: Mindful eating entails fully focusing on your food as you eat, including the tastes, smells, and textures of your food. In a small study of 10 obese volunteers, three months of mindful eating resulted in participants having less hunger, stress, anxiety, and depression.8
- Eat the rainbow: An easy way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to support a healthy mood is to eat the rainbow. This means eating fruits and vegetables of different colors every day.
- Pay attention to food sensitivities: Even healthy foods might trigger someone’s anxiety if they have a food sensitivity. Common sensitivities include gluten, dairy, amines, sulfites, fructose, yeast, and even certain food colorings.
- Try the Mediterranean diet: Studies show an adherence to the Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with depression, anxiety, and psychological distress.9 This diet mostly consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, and extra virgin olive oil. Foods that should be eaten in moderation include poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt, while red meat, added sugars, and refined oils should be eaten rarely.
- Try the ketogenic diet: Like the Mediterranean diet, the ketogenic diet is also associated with lower anxiety levels.10 This diet primarily consists of high fats, moderate proteins, and very low carbohydrates.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime: Like staring at screens before bed or having a highly caffeinated drink with dinner, eating a meal too close to bedtime can mess with your sleep and your mood.11 If you’re hungry for a late-night snack, aim for nutritious options like kiwi, goji berries, cheese, or bananas with almond butter.
Additional Methods to Reduce Anxiety Levels
Eating well is one key component to reducing anxiety in your life, but there are a number of other lifestyle habits that can be just as effective. This includes following a regular exercise routine, controlling screen time, getting adequate sleep, and practicing mindfulness like meditation, breathing techniques, yoga, and more. Seeing a therapist is another powerful way to uncover the roots of your anxiety and learning self-regulating techniques to deal with it more effectively.
If you need more support, consider taking a homeopathic medication like Brillia to help reduce anxiety without harsh chemicals or harmful side effects. Brillia is a non-prescription medication containing antibodies to the brain-specific S100B protein, a key regulator of various different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. This protein plays a crucial role in mood regulation and helps to normalize levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are the same neurotransmitters affected by your nutritional habits.
Available for adults and children, Brillia reduces symptoms like irritability, restlessness, impulsivity, and anxiety at the very source of symptoms without altering blood chemistry or affecting any other systems in the body. This ensures the medication will not cause undesirable side effects or mask the personality in any way. Brillia does not have contraindications either, so if you are already taking a medication or supplement for your anxiety, you can add Brillia to your regimen without worry.
Another unique aspect about Brillia is its Five-Pillar methodology. This holistic approach pairs antibody support with healthy lifestyle habits, like proper nutrition, to ensure you are addressing your anxiety with all the tools available to you. While you acclimate to healthy habits like eating well, sleeping adequately, controlling your screen time, and practicing mindfulness, you will gradually learn to manage your anxiety on your own while promoting whole-body health.