There are many natural ways to help reduce anxiety and feel calmer without prescription medications. One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to eat more foods that help anxiety naturally.
Several foods have been found to reduce anxiety and stress while promoting calmness. Just adding these foods to your daily diet can help reduce your symptoms of anxiety.
These foods can help whether you’re dealing with anxiety on a daily basis or just due to a certain event or stressful situation, like doing a presentation at school or work. Almost 30% of the population suffers from anxiety at some point in their life.
The great part about using foods to help reduce anxiety is that you can use them instead of taking pharmaceutical medications or use them in conjunction with medications. I’ve read many stories from people online that were able to decrease their medication by combining natural methods with their medications with a goal of weaning off the medications.
Not only is it beneficial to start eating foods that help anxiety, but there are also certain foods to avoid that can contribute to and cause anxiety, in particular caffeine.
6 Foods that Help Anxiety
1. Yogurt or Kefir
A recent study by the University of Missouri found that consuming probiotics decreased levels of anxiety and stress-related symptoms. Yogurt and kefir both contain beneficial bacteria to help your gut microbes. Foods containing the good bacteria, including fermented foods, improve digestion and have been linked to decreasing social anxiety in those that consume it on a daily basis.
Digestion has a strong link to anxiety as our gastrointestional tract is referred to as our “second brain”. This is because more than 90% of our serotonin, the “happy hormone” is made and synthesized in the digestive tract.
The director of Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, Dr. Pasricha, found that when irritation occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, it sends messages to the central nervous system altering mood and anxiety levels.
Probitotics can improve your gastrointestinal tract by improving overall function, reducing irritation, and increasing absorption of nutrients.
Eating foods that contain high amounts of beneficial omega- 3 fatty acids, such as salmon can reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
Omega- 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body and also reduce effects of stress on the body.
One study found that those who consumed omega-3 fatty acids in combination with taking their anti-anxiety medication saw more of an improvement than those that only took the medication.
Besides eating salmon, increasing your consumption of other foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna, mackerel, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds can also help.
You could also take a fish oil supplement to get the benefits as well. I’m not a big fish eater, so I take this fish oil supplement daily.
A study by Ohio State University found that those who took a fish oil supplement had a reduction in anxiety by 20% compared to those who did not take the supplement.
3. Grass-fed Meat
Fatty meats contain beneficial B vitamins including vitamin B1 and thiamin to help reduce and prevent anxiety. Thiamine has powerful calming effects on the nerves and can significantly reduce anxiety.
Studies have found that those who increased their vitamin B intake saw a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
Foods that are high in vitamin B include grass fed beef, chicken, pork, nuts and seeds (especially sunflower seeds), beans and lentils.
Bananas are a great food to help anxiety because they are high in B vitamins which help to calm your nerves.
Bananas also contain the protein, tryptophan which is first converted into 5-HTP in the brain, then into serotonin.
Additionally, bananas have been found to create similar effects in the body acting as a natural beta blocker, which reduces anxiety. This is because bananas are high in potassium which increases your body’s ability to get rid of sodium and in turn decreases blood pressure.
5. Chamomile Tea
This is probably one of the most well known natural remedies for anxiety.
Chamomile tea has long been used for its ability to reduce anxiety and making people feel calmer. This is often why many have a cup of this tea before bed. It is very calming and helps them fall asleep.
Several studies over the years have found that drinking chamomile tea significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety.
6. Green Tea
Green tea contains many amino acids that can help reduce anxiety and produce a calming effect. The most important amino acid in green tea is L-theanine.
A study found that students who consumed increased amounts of L-theanine reported reduced levels of anxiety prior to taking a test compared to those who did not.
Reduce Anxiety by Removing Caffeine from Your Diet
It would be best to reduce or eliminate Caffeine from your diet to reduce anxiety. Caffeine increases heart rate and the stimulating effects can contribute to anxiety symptoms and even panic attacks. Caffeine also interferes with sleep and it can take up to 9 hours for the stimulating effects to wear off.
Other Things You Can do to Help Anxiety Naturally
1. Increase your magnesium – I use an Epsom salt foot soak daily to increase my magnesium. It noticeably helps my anxiety.
2. Try a natural calming supplement – I always took one of these natural stress relief supplements before giving presentations in grad school. They really seemed to help.
3. Get Good sleep – When you don’t get good sleep, your stress hormones can increase contributing to more anxiety.
4. Exercise – Go for a walk or do yoga. Studies have found exercise can immediately reduce anxiety and have lasting effects.