Anxiety is a unpleasant feeling with no clear or realistic cause and is associated with apprehension, concern, worry, and trepidation. On occasion everyone experiences anxiety, and it is both a psychological and physiological state. Its symptoms often include heart palpitations, depression, claustrophobia, shortness of breath, tense muscles, mood swings, fatigue, and concentration problems, and when the body stays on high alert constantly, it leads to health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and lowered immunity. To reduce anxiety and panic, there are several anxiety reducing nutritional aids. These aids include:
- Avocado. Avocados are rich in B vitamins and magnesium. B vitamins are needed for proper functioning of the body’s nervous system, and magnesium is known as the “antistress” mineral. In addition, avocados have oleic acids that lower cholesterol and carotenoids that fight against breast and prostate cancer.
- Calcium and Magnesium. Common among anxiety sufferers is a chemical called lactic acid. When the body burns glucose without oxygen it creates lactic acid, which is then converted to pyruvic acid; however, people who suffer from panic attacks, cannot properly convert lactic acid to pyruvic acid, and, so, they have inordinately high lactic acid levels. To help reduce lactic acid levels, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, recommends a daily dose of 800 to 1,200 milligrams of a calcium and magnesium, as well as a separate B complex vitamin supplement.
- Dairy Products. Dairy products are rich in calcium, and calcium helps the body maintain healthy nerve function and calms the body down. Calcium also helps prevent nervousness, hyperactivity, and insomnia.
- Flaxseed Oil. One factor that may cause panic attacks is an alpha-linolenic acid deficiency. You can tell if you have this deficiency because symptoms include brittle fingernails, dry skin, and dandruff. Flaxseed oil contains high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, and, Balch maintains “three out of four people with a history of agoraphobia…improved after two to three months of taking 2 to 3 teaspoons of flaxseed oil daily.”
- Green Tea. Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, and L-theanine modifies the stimulating effects of caffeine that are found in green tea so that green tea can promote relaxation and enhance mental clarity.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. According to Medical News Today, several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce anxiety. Omega-3s are found in seafood; however, it seems its the higher docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rather than the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels in the omega-3 fatty acids that work to reduce anxiety. Seafood with higher DHA levels than EPA levels include anchovies, Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic salmon, bluefish, catfish, caviar, chinook, cod, grouper, haddock, halibut, mollusks, mullet, perch, rainbow trout, sea bass, sockeye salmon, shark, smelt, swordfish, tuna, turbot, walleye pike, and white fish.
- Protein. Protein stablizes blood sugar levels, and when blood sugar levels fluctuate, a person is more likely to experience anxiety. Good protein sources include meat, fish, eggs, beans, and soy.
- Mushrooms. Pantothenic acid, similar to magnesium, is an “antistress” vitamin and aids nerve function. It also supports the adrenal glands, improves metabolism, and lowers stress. Pantothenic acid from mushrooms is also supposedly used in the creation of anxiety medications, and the best mushroom sources of pantothenic acid, based on 100 grams, are from highest to lowest, oyster (1.9 mg), crimini (1.5), white or button (1.5 mg), shiitake (1.4 mg), portabello (1.3 mg), enoki (1.1 mg) and maitake (0.3 mg) mushroom.
- Turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, which is a soothing essential amino acid that some people attribute to their sleepiness after Thanksgiving dinner. However, tryptophan acts as a biochemical precursor to serotonin, and serotonin is what promotes sleep and helps reduce anxiety.
The last anxiety reducing nutritional aid is actually four tips related to breakfast, small meals, fluids, and foods to avoid. Several studies have shown people who eat breakfast have less anxiety and are calmer. Besides eating breakfast, consuming small meals throughout the day stabilizes blood glucose levels so there is less anxiety. Additionally, chronic dehydration, no matter how slight, increases nervousness and anxiety, so, stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water or herbal teas throughout the day. If you’re interested in learning what foods increase anxiety and why you should avoid them, read Foods to Avoid for Anxiety.