Under the Hood

Best Foods To Eat To Reduce Anxiety Amid Pandemic

As we slowly adapt to the "new normal" after the first wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is more important than ever to keep watch on our overall health, especially with rising health and nutrition-related complaints about hunger and not being full. These complaints are found by medical experts to have one common factor: stress. 

Stress and anxiety, particularly as a result of sudden changes in everyday life stemming from the coronavirus, have altered eating behavior in many ways, making a person prone to long-term illnesses. However, with a healthy enough diet, these effects will at least be reduced, if not avoided, because these can boost the immune system while lowering blood pressure levels. To keep you calm and collected every day, the Daily Sabah listed the following foods that help reduce anxiety amid the pandemic:

Blueberries

Thanks to their vitamin C content, these purple-blue-colored round fruits increase your body's stress tolerance by reducing the harmful effects of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Levels of that vitamin are affected by both physical and emotional stress. This is important since vitamin C boosts the body's immune system, which helps it fight against infections and diseases. Because the vitamin is water-soluble and needs to be replenished every day, the stress hormone cortisol can also deplete it quickly. This can alter your hormonal system, causing even more stress as a result.

Spinach

High in magnesium, spinach helps in relieving headaches and fatigue, both of which compound the physical effects of stress in the body. Like other leafy green vegetables, it is also rich in folate, a mood-regulating mineral. Adding more salads and vegetable dishes to your diet and consuming a cup of spinach will allow you to benefit from their natural stress-fighting properties.

Complex Carbohydrates 

When complex and consumed in moderation, carbs are not as bad as everyone thought them out to be. Complex carbs balance blood pressure by increasing levels of the "feel-good" hormone serotonin in the brain. Serotonin itself regulates mood, sleep, anxiety and happiness. It also has a calming effect. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grain bread and whole grain pasta.

Omega-3-Rich Food 

Omega-3s, which have a number of essential functions in the body, are key to assisting in nerve cell formation in the brain. These fatty acids are found by studies to reduce anxiety and inflammation in the body. Stress causes proteins called cytokines to be released into the bloodstream. Cytokines, which regulate the immune system's response to diseases and infections, have pro-inflammatory elements that hamper the body's ability to fight harmful pathogens over time. Foods rich in omega-3 include oily fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds.

Eggs 

In spite of getting a bad rep for causing high cholesterol levels, eggs are excellent sources of protein, B vitamins and the stress-managing amino acid tryptophan. While B vitamins reduce depression and anxiety and relieve stress, tryptophan helps elevate mood and promotes better sleep. The best time to eat them is at breakfast, which has the added benefit of keeping you full for longer.

Nuts And Seeds 

Consuming a handful of nuts and seeds such as pistachios, walnuts and almonds can help lower your cholesterol levels, reduce diabetes risk and protect against the effects of stress. Packed with magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin B6 and antioxidants, these help keep blood vessels open and relaxed during high-stress situations, as well as help the body secrete serotonin. However, because they are high in energy and fats, it is best to consume no more than 40 grams daily, although it may vary depending on the doctor's advice.

Blueberries Blueberries can reduce stress and anxiety as they are rich in antioxidants. Brandon Wilson/Unsplash

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