Post-pandemic more people are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression than ever before. Whether it be through working long hours with unrealistic deadlines or dealing with complicated family situations or just feeling very low, our mental health is in crisis.
In today’s blog we’re going to look at some natural ways to help beat anxiety and stress through food. Whilst taking medication from your doctor can certainly help to get your mental health back on track, we’re also interested in what foods can help us along the way. Are there any ingredients we can add to our diet to help prevent our mental health from suffering? Let’s find out!
Aside from being healthy and nutritious, bananas are the ultimate convenience food. it comes in it’s own eco-friendly wrapping an is easy to carry about when you want to snack on the go. But what else can they do for us?
Bananas are also good for our mental health because they can actually help enhance your mood. This is because eating bananas has an affect on tryptophan – an amino acid which helps with the production of serotonin. Tryptophan also helps in improving sleep and regulates intake of food. So if you feel the grumps coming on as a result of feeling tired and hungry, bananas could be your snack-friend.
Is anxiety an issue for you? Then maybe asparagus can help. Some foods can have a natural calming effect because they contain the magic combination of potassium, fibre and vitamins and our spiky green friend is one of them.
A true ‘super-food’, we can forgive asparagus for making our pee a bit stinky as the benefits outweigh the inconvenience. Seen as a bit of an aphrodisiac back in the day, this veggie is able to zap any excess ammonia in our bodies that could make us sluggish, help regulate blood sugar and contains the mood boosting nutrient folate. Definitely something that can put a spring in our step.
The little blue balls of joy are packed with vitamin C, which is lucky because that is exactly what our body craves when we are feeling stressed or anxious. Instead of reaching for the biscuits when stress strikes, swerve the sugar and reach for these small and mighty mood stress busters.
Considered by some as the king of the antioxidants, blueberries aren’t just good for stress and anxiety. Packed with vitamins and nutrients as well as low in calories, these tiny little berries may also help in other ways too, with properties and benefits to combat anti-aging, help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease as well as maintain and improve memory and brain function to name just a few.
Studies have discovered that an alternative to medication prescribed for depression can actually be found in the probiotic bacteria in yogurt. Another has found a link between probiotic and fermented foods and anxiety. Now that’s not normally something we would think of when looking at food as a natural way to manage stress and anxiety.
While it’s still a little unclear how the link works, scientists think it’s something to do with the gut-brain axis – how our central nervous system is linked to our gut. They believe that these little probiotic micro-organisms in our gut affect our appetite, mood, sleep habits, reduce inflammation (which they also think is linked to depression) and affect how we respond to stress. Maybe putting yogurt instead of milk on our breakfast cereal is the way forward?
The super-ingredient in avocado is vitamin B6 along with around 20 or so other vitamins and minerals . The group of B-vitamins all have a positive effect on our nervous system, with a deficiency in any of them often linked to increased anxiety.
Easy to eat on toast or in a dip, there are some great benefits to this versatile superfood. As well as being packed with folate which is good for your overall mood and well-being, it’s a tasty friend that can also help in the battle to prevent osteoporosis and improve our digestion.
This little cup of calm almost contains magical powers. When looking for a natural remedy, chamomile tea is renown for helping to ease insomnia and calm the mind which in turn may ease any anxiety symptoms.
If it’s not for you, it is also available in capsule form, meaning you can still enjoy it’s other benefits, such as improved sleep. Anyone who has suffered from insomnia will understand how it can wreak havoc with other areas in your life, which in turn contribute to stress and depression. With so many people enjoying a little cup of chamomile tea before bed, we think they could be on to something.
Lavender has long been used in soaps and perfumes, but has more recently been used to ease the symptoms of anxiety. In 2020, when the COVID lockdowns were in full swing, we were happily using lavender sprays on our pillows to help us sleep, roll-on oils on our wrists during the day and fragranced salts in our baths at night to help sooth our worries away. And it really worked!
Lavender naturally reduces our stress levels, with the essential oil not exclusive to beauty salons and spas. If you like to meditate or practise mindfulness, try using lavendar oil in a diffuser or dabbed on your skin (if it doesn’t disagree with you) to enhance your session. It will really help you relax and leave your worries behind.
Whilst we would never encourage anyone to stop taking medication without speaking to health professionals, wouldn’t it be fabulous if one day we could manage our mental health and wellbeing with natural ingredients from the fridge and not medication (often with side effects) from a doctor. Food for thought, indeed.