Stressed? Anxious? Make sure you are getting enough of these 5 things in your diet!
Updated: May 20, 2020
Anyone who has ever experienced anxiety and panic attacks knows how debilitating it can be. You feel helpless when it's happening and it's almost impossible to talk yourself through it. Some people take prescriptions to help when it’s really, really bad and that is TOTALLY ok. I just want to be clear, I'm not at all saying there isn't a place for western medicine! But did you know that you can help improve your anxiety with food too? I know! Studies have shown that low levels of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. Here are 5 vitamins and minerals to include in your diet to help manage stress and anxiety. (They are also important for all around health, not just stress and anxiety so include them anyway!)
Ok, so some of you have heard that magnesium is helpful for sleep. It helps with muscle relaxation as well and many other regulating processes in the body. But we're talking about anxiety here… right? So magnesium plays an important role in our parasympathetic nervous system, the system that tells the body to chill out because you aren't in danger, also known as the "rest and digest" system. If we are low in magnesium our "fight or flight" response can be triggered. Not good. Magnesium is also a factor in the production of serotonin and dopamine, both very important for your mood and relaxation.
Foods high in magnesium:
+ Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, almonds, cashews)
+ Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards)
+ Peanut butter
+ Dark Chocolate (70-85%)
Have y'all heard of B vitamins? You might be familiar with a few of them like biotin (B7) and folate (B9). B vitamins help with your energy levels and production of important molecules in your cells. Let's focus on B6 though. Low levels of vitamin B6 has been linked to panic attacks, yikes! B6 is necessary for the creation of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and produce serotonin and dopamine. When serotonin levels are reduced, research has shown that it can cause panic attacks and hyperventilation (not good!).
Foods that are high in B6:
+ Nutritional yeast
+ Pinto beans
Hand in hand with B6, low iron levels have also been linked to panic attacks and hyperventilation. Iron is critical for dopamine production, and iron deficiency can contribute to anxiety. Iron is found in a lot of animal products but there are plenty of plant based foods that can get you your daily dose of iron :)
Foods high in iron:
+ Beans (kidney, lima, navy)
+ Peanut Butter
+ Brown Rice
Zinc is important for healthy brain and immune function. It's also been found to be an effective treatment for those with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Since our body can’t make or store zinc it's important to make sure we are getting enough of it in our diets everyday.
Foods high in zinc:
+ Legumes (lentils, beans, peanuts)
+ Seeds (hemp, pumpkin, sesame)
+ Nuts (cashews, almonds, chia)
+ Dark chocolate (70-85%)
Ok so this isn't a vitamin or mineral BUT it's still important!! Fiber is key for all around good health, not just for anxiety and stress but again, that’s what we're talking about here! Fiber helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Kinda like the whole flattening the curve with COVID19, fiber helps prevent a big spike in blood sugar. Having irregular blood sugar levels …think that emotional roller coaster, highs and lows…has been linked to mood disorders including anxiety. Fiber also helps feed the good bacteria in your gut. These microbes produce short-chain fatty acids which have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. So fiber is definitely your friend here! Main thing to remember when trying to up your fiber intake, whole foods are the way to go, not refined or processed (avoid white bread and juice). Meat also has no fiber so focus on your fruits and veggies!
Foods high in fiber:
+ Nuts and Seeds
So there you have it, 5 amazing vitamins and minerals that give your body the support it needs to manage stress and anxiety. If you want some recipes with these stress and anxiety fighting food let me know! Shoot me an email or comment below.
Vitamin B6 resources: