Stress and anxiety levels may be reduced by eating specific foods. Scientists have long known that many of the foods we eat can alter our brain chemistry. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is the best way to ensure the nervous system is fully supported at all times. But when you are going through a period of particularly heightened stress or anxiety, just eating "healthy" may not be enough by itself. Focus on foods that have the ability to calm the mind and relax the body.
Green tea is not just a beverage for hippies. It contains good amounts of a rare amino acids called L-theanine. Currently there is much scientific investigation going on into the effects of L-theanine on reducing anxiety and creating a calm, relaxed state of mind. Chemically, it seems to work in an almost opposite way to caffeine: it reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure, slows the heart, and improves sleep.
Studies on acute anxiety, sleep, chronic stress and memory have demonstrated its effectiveness. Drink at least 2-3 cups of green tea per day, infusing the leaves for one minute, to get an optimum dose of L-theanine each day. L-Theanine works quickly, so you should feel the calming and soothing effects of it within half an hour after ingestion.
Almonds are an easy and delicious snack that helps to calm the mind. You see, almonds are one of the top food sources of magnesium -- a mineral that is required every day for muscle relaxation, stress management, sleep, and increased bone density.
When you become deficient in this feel-good nutrient, you're going to be more prone to experience insomnia, muscle tension, cramps, and anxiety. Just eating a small handful of almonds every day will provide all the magnesium you need, as well as essential fatty acids (mostly omega 6 and omega 9), protein, calcium, and vitamin E.
For optimal results, eat almonds at night during or after dinner, as your body will take magnesium and integrate it back into your cells while you are sleeping.
Deep sea fish
It is well known now in the health community that fish and omega-3 oils provide a variety of benefits for the human brain.
As the primary fat in the brain is omega-3, people need to consume omega-3 oils every day to maintain good brain health. Once you have increased omega-3 in the diet, studies show that memory, mood and cognitive performance all improve, and at least one double-blind clinical study on medical students has found that omega-3 reduces symptoms of anxiety.
You can just supplement with omega-3 oil capsules, but consuming deep sea fish -- the primary food source of omega-3 -- has a host of other benefits as well. Fish contain protein, vitamins and minerals. Some fish, sardines and salmon, for example, contain good amounts of magnesium, a mineral which has a calming and relaxing effect, helping to reduce nervous tension. (It's best to eat tuna sparingly because of the possible accumulation of mercury in this fish.)
Eat 2 to 3 servings of deep sea oily fish each week, eating from a wide range of species to get the most health benefits out of your improved seafood diet.
You don't just eat spinach to be strong like Popeye. When you have had a long, difficult day, spinach may be just the thing to support your emotions and stress levels. Scientists now know that spinach positively effects serotonin levels, which is a necessary hormone for warding off anxiety and stress.
In addition, spinach contains chemicals which appear to attach to opioid receptors throughout the body, creating a feel-good effect and reducing symptoms of pain or tension. These combined actions make spinach a useful antidepressant, anti-anxiety, pain reliever and mood-enhancer, which can be cheaply and effortlessly added to the daily diet.
Spinach leaves do contain high levels of oxalic acid, and an overdose of this acid may lead to the formation of kidney stones in some people, so spinach is best blanched in hot water before eating. This will remove the majority of the oxalic acid from the leaves, while leaving the other nutrients intact.
Oats are a great way to start the day when you are feeling strained. Famous for their dietary fibres, called beta-glucans, which can reduce blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugars, scientists now know that oats also contain other chemicals which can support the nervous system.
Oats are a rich source of B-vitamins, which are necessary for the production of stress-reducing hormones and supporting adrenal gland function during stress, as well as a thousand other processes in the body. Studies show that a breakfast of oats helps with short and long-term memory, attention, and overall cognitive (thinking) function.
Oat bran in particular has some interesting ingredients. Gramine, a chemical found in the bran of the oats, has been found to have beneficial relaxant properties on the nervous system, thereby reducing anxiety. Oat straw has similar alkaloids, which is likely the reason for its use in herbal medicine for stress and nervous exhaustion. Consuming oats, oat bran and oat straw tea on a regular basis is an excellent way to maintain brain health, calm the mind, and help manage stress levels.
Make sure you consume these 5 foods on a regular basis, and see how much better you can manage anxiety and stress.
Peter Field MA BCH MBACP FRSH is one of the leading hypnotherapists working in the UK today, a nutritionist, and counselor. He has more than 30 years of international hypnosis experience and is an acknowledged Master in the healing art of hypno-psychotherapy. Peter is an author, lecturer, broadcaster, regular BBC contributor and internationally recognized writer on psychotherapy, hypnosis and health. His expertise has been featured in The Times and other prestigious journals; he has appeared on TV and radio, and his knowledgeable articles are currently published internationally on more than 200 different websites. Please visit his hypnotherapists in Birmingham website for more information. His self hypnosis anxiety MP3 recording is now available.© 2013 Peter James Field