20 Best Foods to Lower the Risk of Anxiety, Stress and Depression

20 Best Foods to Lower the Risk of Anxiety, Stress and Depression

What to Eat to Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Depression

There are many ways to manage and even reduce stress levels when you’re feeling tense. Food can be one of your biggest allies — or enemies. It can make your stress levels go down or up, so it’s critical to pay attention to what you’re eating when you’re feeling frazzled.

Anxiety has a way of creeping into almost every aspect of our lives. Whether you are raising your family, working long hours, or dealing with family or health-related issues, stress and anxiety take their toll on your emotional and physical health.

Although elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression might necessitate a medical evaluation, there are various things you can do to help ease your tension before it spirals out of control.

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Foods That Help Control Anxiety and Stress

If you’re trying to lower your stress levels, you probably already know to start with the basics: self-care, sleep management, and exercise. But did you know there are some foods that lower stress levels, too?

What cortisol does

Cortisol plays a number of roles in the body, including:

  • Regulating sleep cycles
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Increasing blood sugar
  • Managing how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Controlling blood pressure

Importantly, cortisol is sometimes known as the “stress hormone” because your adrenal gland releases it when you’re in a stressful situation, or when your body is under physical stress (like inflammation). It’s the key to helping your body manage its fight-or-flight instinct — which is a good thing.

Stress-relieving foods

Foods that are promoted on the Mediterranean diet are the same foods that are good to eat when you’re stressed: fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. In fact, Barth encourages patients to adopt a Mediterranean diet for overall health and wellness, including stress relief. The goal is to eat foods that reduce inflammation in your body, thus reducing cortisol levels. Here are some foods that help combat stress by lowering your cortisol.

Foods high in vitamin B

Whole grains and some animal sources have lots of B vitamins in them — particularly vitamin B12, which can help with metabolism of cortisol:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereal
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Organ meats

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acid

These foods reduce inflammation. The best activated form is through fatty fish, but you can also get it from some plant sources such foods include:

  • Anchovies
  • Avocados
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Olive oil
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Walnuts

Magnesium-rich foods

Magnesium is hugely beneficial when it comes to reducing inflammation, metabolizing cortisol and relaxing the body and mind.

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach

Protein-rich foods

Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, beans, and legumes promote balanced blood sugar levels.

  • Almonds
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Lean beef
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Quinoa
  • Turkey breast
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp

Gut-healthy foods

Seventy to 80% of our immune system is reliant on our gut, so if we correct our gut, we correct a lot of our immunity. These probiotic-rich and fermented foods can help balance blood sugar and reduce cholesterol:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Caffeine
  • High-sugar foods
  • Simple carbs, such as cakes and pastries
  • Soda

Eat well and eat consistently

If you’re hoping to reduce stress, keep in mind this one key piece of advice: Don’t skip meals. Eating on a regular schedule — every three to five hours — helps balance your blood sugar levels. Being in a chronic state of low blood sugar is stressful on your body and can increase cortisol, so maintaining a balanced blood sugar can go a long way.

And tempting though it may be, don’t turn to supplements to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. We know what impact nutrition has on your body, whereas supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Go with food first.

Foods to avoid

In contrast, some foods raise cortisol levels. Foods that cause stress on your body include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • High-sugar foods
  • Simple carbs, such as cakes and pastries
  • Soda

If you are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, please visit one of our emergency room locations immediately. ER of Texas has top-rated freestanding emergency rooms in the Dallas-Fort Worth areas, including Highland Village, Little Elm, Frisco, Hurst, Colleyville, Mansfield, Hillcrest, Sherman, and Uptown.

Our ERs and walk-in clinics are open 24/7, and our board-certified doctors treat all minor and major medical emergencies.