Ola Mishchenko/Unsplash

Foods to Eat to Alleviate Stress

13:00 August 03, 2020
By: Clara Lacey

For those who are stressed, anxious, or even depressed, what you put into your body could help fight those feelings that bring you down.

"Emerging research in the nascent field of nutritional psychiatry suggests that certain foods can help manage a broader range of emotional challenges, such as anxiety, anger, and insomnia," The Wall Street Journal reported.

Although antidepressants and talk therapy are the most established treatments for mental health, studies have proved that a healthy diet with foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and other lean proteins can combat our negative feelings.

Dr. Uma Naidoo, the founder and director of the Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry clinic at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, has a goal of helping people cope with mental illness through nutritional strategies.

Dr. Naidoo is a nutritional psychiatrist and author of the new book This is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, PTSD, ADHD, Anxiety, OCD and More.

Dr. Naidoo explains how important personalized treatments for nutrition are for our mental health: "This is because of the connection between the gut and brain. They connect via the vagus nerve, which allows for two-way communication. The balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome is so important because they communicate with the brain. But the composition of bacteria in each person's gut is unique. So one person with depression may respond very differently to certain foods than the next person with depression."

Certain foods can fix the imbalance of our good and bad bacteria within our gut. Changing how you eat can result in a change in your stress level. These changes will cause your gut to rebalance and will have a positive outcome.

Dr. Naidoo recommends the Mediterranean eating pattern or BRAIN FOODS:

B - berries to give you fiber and antioxidants
R - rainbow of colors from fruits and veggies, which supply fiber and nutrients
A - antioxidants, which assist in getting rid of damaging compounds made within the body
I - includes, which means remember to include leaner proteins
N - nuts, a great source of nutrients
F - fiber-rich and fermented foods that feed the good gut bacteria
O - oils: healthy oils like olive oil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
O - Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, such as fatty fish, hold an anti-inflammatory effect
D - dairy, which adds good bacteria to your gut
S - spices have great brain benefits

[Brooke Lark/Unsplash]

Foods to avoid are also just as important to know. Processed foods and those with artificial sugar are foods to stray away from.

Below are specific foods to look for to better your body and mind:

  • Fiber-rich foods that feed the good bacteria in the gut:.
    Beans, legumes, fruit and vegetables, kefir, miso, and kimchi.
  • Vitamins B9 and B12 help protect brain cells:.
    Legumes, leafy green vegetables, fish, and shellfish.
  • Prebiotics: Foods that feed the good bacteria within the gut.
    : Beans and legumes, oats, bananas, berries, garlic, onions, asparagus, artichokes, leeks.
  • Probiotics: Live bacteria and yeast that replenish good bacteria within the gut.
    Yogurt with active cultures (be sure to skip the fruit-sweetened versions); fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.

Although food can not replace medication for mental health, it can greatly improve your daily life and attitude. Change your diet to improve your lifestyle, with foods that are not only yummy but healthy.

Sign Up!