Our ability to control out stress levels and keep anxiety at bay can suffer if we don’t give our brain the nutrients it needs to function properly. And even though being chronically stressed out and anxious has mostly to do with your environment, the food you eat can be the number one determining factor.
According to an article from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Health, a plant based diet alone is bound to help with anxiety and mood problems. With that being said, here are 10 plant based foods that could help you control stress and anxiety once and for all.
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People suffering from mood disorders such as anxiety and depression were found to have elevated levels of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. This enzyme breaks down the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the brain which can lead to the onset of a mood disorder. A plant antioxidant known as quercetin found in capers is known to work as a powerful monoamine oxidase inhibitor, meaning that it can help boost neurotransmitter production.
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Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid important for serotonin production. Studies on tryptophan found that it was an effective treatment for anxiety and even insomnia. However, you will get the best results by eating your pumpkin seeds with a carbohydrate-rich meal as this helps increase tryptophan absorption into the brain.
Chia seeds are considered one of the best brain foods and for good reasons also. They are a rich source of all nutrients important for normal brain functioning such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They are considered a great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids which is an important nutrient for relieving stress and anxiety.
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Tempeh is a fermented soy product that originated from Indonesia and that could reduce your anxiety levels. A study published in Psychiatry Research found a link between fermented food consumption and a reduced risk of anxiety disorders. However, make sure to eat soy tempeh and not bean tempeh as the bean version is known to increase bad gut bacteria.
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The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action of turmeric can help fight a wide array of disease, including anxiety and depression. A study published in Phytotherapy Research even found that turmeric was significantly effective in reducing the symptoms of depression in patients with major depressive disorder. Because anxiety and depression are often co-occurring disorders, taking turmeric can help with anxiety as well.
Dark leafy greens
Green veggies such as spinach, parsley, kale, and chard are a rich source of magnesium – a mineral important for stress regulation. An article published in Neuropharmacology explains that magnesium deficiency, which is very common today, induces anxiety and an uncontrolled stress response. Boosting your magnesium consumption through leafy greens can help your body relax.
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Cocoa is a rich source of polyphenols which are types of plant antioxidants. Researchers believe that the high polyphenol content in cocoa can help improve mood and provide stress relief. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology compared the effects cocoa had on mood and wellbeing to placebo. After 30 days, the cocoa group state that they felt much calmer and happier than did the placebo group.
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Bananas are considered natural beta-blockers that can help when you have a panic attack or severe anxiety. This is because they are a rich source of potassium, an important mineral which some studies even found was a powerful anxiolytic. Besides that, potassium also regulates blood pressure, neuron functioning, and hormonal balance.
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Most types of dried algae such as nori contain high amounts of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is usually hard to obtain from a vegetarian or vegan diet but that is important for normal brain functioning. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in a range of symptoms associated with anxiety and other mood disorders. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, make sure to include algae as your source of vitamin B12.
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Lentils are a rich source of folate which is another important B vitamin for normal brain functioning. Just 100 grams of cook lentils contain 45% of your daily folate requirements. Lentils are also low in calories and fat, making them a perfect meal for those who want to lose weight. Make sure to include them into your daily anxiety relieving diet.
The link between mental health and nutrition is now well-established and researchers are looking for new ways to treat disorders such as anxiety and depression with diet. This is also the main reason why we’re seeing a rise in the sales of nootropics such as BrainPlusIQ that contain nutrients as their main ingredients to improve cognitive functioning and mood. But, of course, it’s always best to reduce stress and anxiety by obtaining your nutrients from natural food sources.