One-third of Americans will experience prolonged anxiety at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While treatment once largely focused on medication and therapy, research suggests food and nutrients should play a role too.
This is because inflammation is often a root cause or underlying contributor to anxiety. Chronic inflammation causes changes in brain communication and neurotransmitter functioning that affects mood, emotional reactions and memory.
Eating foods that reduce inflammation and supply brain-specific nutrients may improve anxiety symptoms. Try adding these seven anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
Low magnesium levels are associated with an increased likelihood of both anxiety and depression. Research suggests that increasing magnesium intake can ease anxiety. Almonds are a top source, providing 20% of the Daily Value in a 1-ounce serving. Other good sources of magnesium are cashews, peanuts and leafy greens like spinach.
Eggs are a source of the anti-inflammatory nutrient choline. Choline is a component of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter involved in memory and mood. Low choline levels are associated with higher anxiety levels. Two eggs contain 50% DV for choline.
Higher intake of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA is associated with a lower risk of anxiety (and may also ease existing anxiety). These fatty acids ease neuroinflammation in the brain and enhance neuron communication. DHA and EPA are only found in fish with a higher fat content, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and sea bass, so try to get two to three servings of these a week.
4. Probiotic-rich foods