Nutrition Changes That Can Reduce Anxiety

While the summertime may have the reputation of leisure and relaxation, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can still be as prevalent as ever, regardless of how much time is spent in the sun. However, scientific studies have shown that following certain nutritional patterns can actually alleviate anxiety, and overall promote better physical and mental wellness.

The biggest food-related change that one can make relates to the relationship between gut health and mental health. Fiber plays a key role in maintaining the health of one’s digestive system and gut, and a clinical trial tested the positive impact of a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome on one’s mood and behavior. In addition, eating breakfast every day boosts one’s metabolism and maintains mental stability. A few breakfast options that are high in fiber include oatmeal with berries or bananas, chia seed pudding, and avocado toast, combining the important factors of gut health and breakfast regularity to combat anxiety. 

Nutritionists also suggest practicing breathing exercises before eating a meal to “switch out of fight or flight mode” so that one’s anxiety is temporarily alleviated, allowing food to digest properly, and ultimately leading to a more long-term elimination of anxious feelings. Taking a few deep breaths before eating, or undergoing a short period of meditation, connects the brain and body in a way that psychologists and dieticians alike have found helpful. 

In the summertime especially, dehydration is a key factor that can contribute to increased anxiety. While it may be the oldest cure in the book to suggest that one “drinks more water,” headaches and exhaustion that are a result of dehydration only exacerbate one’s anxiety. The rule of thumb regarding daily water intake has been set as at least 5 cups per day— and more if one is exerting themselves— in order to keep anxiety at bay. 

Anxiety and other mental health issues vary in extremity and naturally, all cases cannot be easily solved with a quick nutrition fix. However, there is more value than one may think in making small adjustments in nutritional habits every day to lessen the recurring struggles caused by anxiety. 

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