Nutrition and anxiety: Foods that help ease the condition

Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, Dr Swati Bhushan shares tips and foods which can help you to tackle anxiety and anxiety-related problems

Nutrition and anxiety: Foods that help ease the condition

Anxiety disorders may affect our eating patterns adversely. For those suffering from anxiety, there could be a co-occurring eating problem. An individual develops a habit of binge eating which could, at times, spike the primary condition. Maintaining a suitable diet help boost mental health, instil confidence and reduce overwhelming stress.

There are several nutrients which can deal with anxiety symptoms and have a calming effect on our bodies, provided we are not eating processed and junk foods along with these natural relaxants.

Here are few nutrients and their food sources which can help reduce the amount of anxiety we all experience very often.

Foliate: Foliate plays a significant role in the synthesis of Neurotransmitters, which are mood regulators and helps to overcome anxiety and depression.

Foliate deficiency can result in low levels of Serotonin, which is a mood stabilizer and helps to control aggression. Moreover, foliate deficiency results in high Homocysteine levels which can lead to neurotransmitter Deficiency and all together these can result in severe depression, with longer duration of these episodes.

Quinoa, Mustard leaves (Sarson ka Saag), Spinach (Palak), Curry leaves (Kari Patta), Colocasia Leaves (Arbi leaves), Parsley, Mint leaves (Pudhina), Asparagus (Shatavari), Broccoli, Beetroot, Mango, Papaya, Avocado, Field beans (sem phali), Pulses & Legumes, Soybean, Sesame seeds (Til) are naturally good sources of Foliate; and fish is the richest source of foliate.

Magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral which relaxes one in a very natural way. It helps relieve Stress and Anxiety by balancing Neurotransmitters and Stress Hormones. It prevents the rapid rise and sudden drops in blood sugars, lowering brain inflammation, preventing toxic heavy metals from entering the brain and pulling it, in case it enters into the brain.

Adequate Magnesium levels can be met by incorporating amaranth seeds (rajagra/ramdana), Quinoa, bajra, Ragi (nachni), Jowar, whole wheat flour , sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds (khus khus), cumin seeds (jeera), coriander seeds, ajwain, almonds, rajmah (kidney beans), chola (chickpea), chowli (cowpea), soybean, matki , urad dal, moong dal, mint leaves, curry leaves in the diet.

Selenium: Low levels of selenium have been reported to increase anxiety, depression, and tiredness. Having enough selenium during pregnancy helps to reduce postpartum depression. Selenium also helps overcome depression among the elderly.

Aim at obtaining enough selenium from fish, eggs, sesame seeds, garden cress seeds (halim/aliv), mustard seeds, mushrooms, amaranth leaves, beetroot leaves, radish leaves, papaya, pulses and legumes, soybean, cereals & millets like rajgira, barley, jowar, and whole wheat.  Brazil nuts are the richest source of Selenium.

Omega 3 fatty acids: Increasing the intake Omega 3 Fatty Acids have been associated with the better handling of Stress and significant improvement in mood.

There are three types of omega 3 fatty acids, ALA is present in flax seeds (Alsi), Chia seeds (Sabja), walnuts and soybeans. EPA & DHA are present in fish like mackerel (bangda), oil sardines (tarli), salmon (ravas) and tuna. Consuming foods rich in omega 3 fatty acid prevents symptoms of depression and mood swings.

Iron: Iron deficiency might manifest in the form of anxiety, restlessness, irritability and poor concentration. Iron plays an important role in the synthesis of serotonin which regulates mood, and thus, its deficiency is linked to the development of anxiety disorders.

Rich sources of Iron include rajgira, quinoa, chana dal (bengal gram), masoor dal (lentil), chickpea, horse gram (kuleeth/ kulthi), matki , kala chana (bengal gram whole), beetroot leaves, methi leaves, black raisins (kishmish), sesame seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing (asafoetida), black pepper, turmeric (haldi), fenugreek seeds (methi dana), poppy seeds, clove (lavang), mace (jayitri), ajwain, cardamom (elaichi), tamarind.