As the second wave of the pandemic led to a rise in stress and anxiety, it has become imperative to take care of our mental health. “People can manage anxiety by making a few lifestyle adjustments. Including certain foods in one’s daily diet is one of the most basic steps one can take. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein can all be helpful to your health,” says Nutritionist Preety Tyagi.
Advocating the use of pumpkin seeds and bananas, Tyagi adds, “Pumpkin seeds are high in potassium, which helps to maintain electrolyte balance and control blood pressure. Eating potassium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds or bananas will help alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of zinc, as well. Zinc deficiency may have a detrimental impact on mood and emotions.”
Besides maintaining a positive mindset and taking adequate rest, one should eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet to counter mental health issues, says dietitian and nutritionist Shweta Gupta. “Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of magnesium, an essential mineral that reduces anxiety-related behaviours, and stress, thereby helps an individual to feel at ease. Fill one-third of your plate with nutrient-rich vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, kale, cabbage, beet greens, lettuce, etc. to make your diet healthier,” she explains.
High concentration of Vitamin E and omega-3 in nuts and seeds have been linked to lower anxiety, overwhelming feeling, and stress levels, states Gupta while encouraging the use of nuts and seeds with daily meals. She says, “Nuts and seeds are rich in dietary fibre, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote brain health and induce a feeling of tranquillity. Consume almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc. in moderation every day to consume their immense health benefits.”
Proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins in foods work to keep our metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters in check, which also balances our moods, asserts clinical dietitian and nutritionist Kanchan Patwardhan. “A diet loaded in vitamin B complex such as folate found in beans, peas, sunflower seeds, spinach egg yolks, vitamin B6 found in green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts, vitamin B12 are found in non-vegetarian food. These B vitamins work to keep homocysteine levels low. Homocysteine is an amino acid produced by the body, and high levels can be a predictor of depression, especially in women. Vitamin B6 aids the adrenal glands in producing adrenaline, which controls your body’s fight-or-flight response to stress,” she adds. All experts, discourages consumption of aerated beverages, alcohol and smoking.
In addition to this, experts suggest to include these in your daily diet:
1. Dark chocolate: It contains theobromine, which is an anxiety lowering compound and improves your mood.
2. Fermented food: Idli and dosa contains good bacteria and improves the functioning of the gut and in turn helps you deal with anxiety.
3. Citrus fruits: Consuming citrus fruits like rich in Vitamin C like, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, peaches, largely influence immune response and put one in a better frame of mind.
4. Probiotics: Consuming probiotics positively influences the gastrointestinal microbiome that has a direct impact on emotional health and impact behaviour.
5. Chamomile: This herbal remedy has antioxidant, and relaxant properties, and has shown with improving anxiety.