How your diet can help reduce anxiety and stress naturally

In today’s time, stress and anxiety have become increasingly common. While there are many asanas, workouts, and medications to manage the same, experts believe that eating a balanced diet can also help in myriad ways. “Being stressed or anxious is the body’s way of telling you to slow down, take some time, and reduce the pressure. If left unattended, this pressure goes up to the brain and interferes with the body’s daily responses and concentration levels,” said Ishti Saluja, a nutritionist.

According to her, in chronic cases, it is normal for a person to not be able to carry out even basic tasks like taking a shower, preparing a meal, doing office work or studying, or carrying out a wholesome conversation with others. “This disrupts their professional and personal lives massively,” she added.

Explaining that while there are endless reasons why a person could be stressed, the expert told indianexpress.com that in cases when the reason is known (for example, the death of a loved one, divorce, health issues) solutions are easier and so is the treatment. “However, when the reasons are unknown (some of us worry for no reason and that keeps building), it is important to keep the body relaxed and eat healthy meals until you can figure out what is causing this added pressure. At such times, consuming a balanced diet that includes healthy fats, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates become extremely essential,” she shared.

Healthy fats

Make sure to add healthy fats to your diet. (Photo: Freepik)

Speaking about the role of fats, she said, “all hormones are made from protein and fat. So when the body is deprived of fat, it often leads to hormonal imbalances, and many a time, a feeling of anxiety. Make sure you are having enough healthy fats Such as ghee, avocado, cheese, walnuts, and salmon. Rotate your cooking oils every few months so you get benefits from all of them — olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil.”

Fiber and water

Fiber and water are important to flush out any excess hormones that keep circulating in the body. “When you have an unhealthy gut and trouble with digestion, hormones are the last thing the body wants to process. Increasing fiber and water will help flush out those excess hormones,” she said. Good sources of fiber are overnight soaked chia seeds, soaked flax seeds, spinach, celery, broccoli, oats, whole grains, and berries.

Protein

“When the brain is stressed, the body will get affected, too. Muscles tense up, and you feel tired and lethargic. Sufficient protein intake helps maintain your current level of muscle mass and this helps keep the body physically strong while your brain can focus on stress management. Protein Sources: Eggs, protein powder, paneer, soy granules, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dals, and chickpea.

Carbohydrates

Carbs give us energy. “Hence, part of your balanced meal should have carbohydrates to replenish the used energy,” she said. Good sources of carbs are unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits, oats, and white rice.

“While food plays a huge role in managing many health conditions, a positive overall lifestyle is more important. Regular physical exercise and enough sleep are other aspects of a suitable lifestyle to manage stress and anxiety,” suggested Ishti.

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