13 Foods To Help Ease Anxiety & Stress
Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults, which is about 18% of the U.S. adult population, with research suggesting that nearly 30% of American adults will qualify for an anxiety disorder diagnosis at some point in their lives.
I often see people who are struggling with anxiety and are taking medications to manage it. When they come to me, they either don’t like how they feel on the pharmaceuticals or they want to address the underlying cause and eventually get off the medications.
Functional medicine acknowledges that the body is interconnected, and we have to address the underlying dysfunctions that give rise to conditions like anxiety. Eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich, bioavailable foods can help you manage those dysfunctions and ease anxiety.
Here’s a list of 13 foods that are used to address the common underlying dysfunctions that contribute to anxiety disorders:
Research has correlated an imbalance of zinc to copper with anxiety. This trace mineral ratio is responsible for proper neurotransmitter function and adaptation to stress. Increased copper and decreased zinc may lead to symptoms of anxiety.
I run trace mineral labs for my patients to see if this is a factor in their case. If it is, oysters are packed with zinc! This superfood of the sea is a great way to balance the proper trace mineral ratio and your stress levels. It’s also important to note that foods like grains and legumes contain phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that can bind to zinc and block its absorption.
2. Chamomile tea
3. Rooibos tea
4. Full-fat kefir
In functional medicine, the gut is considered the “second brain” because it’s home to 95% of your “feel-good” hormone, serotonin. With more than 100 million neurons, your gut’s health is essential to overall health.
Bacterial imbalances in the gut can alter brain chemistry, leading to anxiety. But probiotics, from fermented foods or supplements, can help repopulate your gut with friendly bacteria. And kefir, an ancient fermented dairy drink, might just be the most powerful probiotic ever!
Kefir also has fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, all important for brain health.
You know that tired feeling people feel after Thanksgiving dinner? It’s actually from the tryptophan in the turkey. Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm.
Low levels of dietary tryptophan have been associated with mood swings, anxiety, and depression in animal studies. Consuming a diet high in tryptophan, especially from meat, has been shown to reduce anxiety disorders.