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Everyone has faced anxiety at some point in their life. Understanding the core nature and the reasons of having anxiety may half solve our problem. So how can we pull an anxious person (ourselves or our loved ones) out of this crisis. Can nutrition help in managing anxiety?

In today’s world, everything is accelerating with such momentum, that the sheer speed of keeping up with it takes a great toll on our well being. We have already accepted the fact that we live in a stressed world and that we have to be stressed in order to succeed at life. There is a deep underlying fear of failure at life.

Anxiety is one of the serious and persistent manifestations of our unresolved fears.  Every one of us have some demons in our closet which we run away from. But sometimes, we have to  face life alone. The current treatment options for anxiety and depression are counselling therapy, medication, or a combination of both. In this article, we shall explore the aspect of nutrition as a complementary treatment in managing anxiety.


Can nutrition make a difference in managing anxiety?

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

Gautam Buddha

According to some research, the most common nutritional deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders are of B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, amino acids, minerals, etc. In general, a diet lacking in essential macro and micro nutrients is bound to cause physical as well as mental health problems.

People with anxiety, depression generally have improper eating habits. They often skip meals or binge on sweet, sugary foods. Poor quality diets naturally aggravate their situation. Hence, nutrition should be given equal priority along with therapy and medications while managing anxiety disorders.

What foods or lifestyle modifications could help in managing anxiety?

As a Dietitian, I would emphasize the need of a balanced nutrition for addressing nutritional deficiencies prevalent in the patients with anxiety and depression.

Below are some guidelines which when followed along with medications can help in addressing the issue.

1. Include Omega 3 fatty acids

Instead of starting the day with tea or coffee, drink a warm glass of lemon and chia seeds water. Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Our brain has highest levels of lipids especially the omega 3 fatty acids which plays a key role in prevention of certain mental disorders.

2. Consume low GI foods

Include low Glycemic Index (GI) foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. in your diet. These foods have a lasting effect on energy levels and mood swings as compared to high GI foods like sweets, ice creams, bakery products, chocolates, etc. Eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetable in a day.

3. Add tryptophan rich sources in your diet

Researchers have found that low levels of amino acid tryptophan cause anxiety, tension and nervousness. Tryptophan promotes feelings of well being in the body. Sources of tryptophan are eggs, tofu, legumes, salmon fish, nuts and seeds, milk and cheese.

4. Don’t ignore B Vitamins

Incorporate Vitamin B sources in your diet. B Vitamins are extremely important for keeping the brain healthy and boosting energy levels. Sources of Vitamin B includes eggs, meat, cheese, milk, liver, fish, beetroot, whole grains and cereals, beans, nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, etc.

5. Iron rich foods

Include iron rich foods like fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, amaranth, beans and lentils, chicken liver, chicken, salmon, etc. Iron deficiency which is more prevalent in females can cause fatigue, depression, irritability, etc. Hence, including iron sources in diet shall help in keeping the energy levels high.

6. Soak up the Sun

Few researches have found a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and depression. We have a free natural source of Vitamin D available at our disposal, the mighty star, our Sun. Daily exposure of 15-30 minutes of morning sun shall maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D in the body and give the much needed energy and vitality.

7. Limit intake of Caffeine

Excessive caffeine (more than 500 mg per day) is known to aggravate anxiety and induce insomnia. A cup or two won’t cause much harm, so make sure you don’t drink more than two cups of coffee or tea per day.

8. Limit intake of sugary foods, sweets, juices and bakery products

If you feel the need to binge on chocolates, you may eat a small chunk of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains magnesium which helps increase serotonin, the happy hormone. Professor Lupin was right, chocolate is an antidote for those who have faced the presence of happiness sucking Dementors. But we will go a step ahead and urge you to eat only the dark variety of chocolate.

To conclude , anxiety, fears and phobias are all going to be there our lives. What is our hands is to equip ourselves with proper nourishment for the mind as well as body. If you want to read more ways to deal with Anxiety, we recommend reading our articles, https://nutrizest.in/tips-to-deal-with-anxiety/ and https://nutrizest.in/9-foods-that-are-good-for-brain/https://nutrizest.in/9-foods-that-are-good-for-brain/.


Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50(2):77-82. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.42391

(Disclaimer: Always seek the advice of a trained health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before seeking any treatment. Proper medical attention should always be sought for specific ailments. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking medical treatment due to information contained on this website. The information on this site is not intended to replace proper medical care.)

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