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How to Beat Anxiety with Food
Just like everyone has different preferences for taste and texture, everyone reacts differently to what they eat. This all comes down to neurotransmitters which are chemicals that send messages between brain cells. These chemicals can have an effect on how you feel by either making you feel tired or energized, anxious or calm, or giving you a boost of joy and happiness. Foods can change the way your brain chemicals work and cause biochemical changes that have a positive effect on your emotional state. Some examples of neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). People who suffer from anxiety are often low in the mood boosting chemicals serotonin and dopamine. By eating more foods containing these chemicals you can attempt to boost mood and reduce anxiety.
Eggs contain the protein tryptophan which is a natural mood elevator. The amino acid tryptophan is essential for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Another protein found in eggs, choline, helps produce acetylcholine which also plays a big role in brain development and function. Choline has been shown in studies to improve cognitive performance and reduce anxiety. Chocolate, in moderation, has been shown to have positive effects on mood because it reduces stress hormones and promotes the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Other mood-boosting nutrients found in chocolate are magnesium and iron. Avocados also contain tryptophan, magnesium and potassium which all have calming effects on the body. Leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens are high in folic acid which helps to decrease anxiety by regulating serotonin production. Pineapple contains bromelain which is known to boost mood and help with stress management.
The best way to find what foods can work for you when dealing with anxiety is to experiment. Try eating a little more chocolate or switching out your morning coffee for something else like an avocado smoothie and see if it has any effect on how anxious you feel throughout the day. If these methods don’t work, try different foods with the above-mentioned nutrients until you find one that does! Maybe even take up yoga (studies show this can reduce symptoms of stress) or start meditating regularly in order to learn new ways of coping with difficult emotions. The important thing is finding a strategy that makes sense for yourself so that managing anxiety doesn’t have such a negative impact on your life anymore!
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