Can Food Drown Your Stress?
Healthy Living

Can Food Drown Your Stress?

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 17 Nov 2014 - 17:23.

It does! Many a time we find ourselves struggling with anxiety or stress and resorting toeasy methods for instant relief - taking medications or binging on high-fat comfort foods. Did you know that the food you eat, directly impacts your mental well-being?

What you feed your body can have a bearing on how you feel physically and emotionally. Some of the anxiety you experience may actually be due to particular stimulants that you consumethrough your diet (deficient in vitamins /minerals).

So, it’s time you turn to healthy lifestyle changes, which include healthy eating habits, meditation and physical exercises to de-clutter your mind, rather than the OTC (over-the-counter) stress relieving drugs.

Research shows that some foods have a calming effect that will help address anxiety while other foods can act as stimulants to anxiety and stress. Here are some nutrients that may help ease your anxiety or stress.

Tryptophan-Rich Foods

Foods rich in tryptophan are very effective at reducing anxiety as they produce chemicals in the brain that encourage relaxation and boost the mood positively. Some researchers believe that tryptophan can have a positive effect on stress as it is a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happieras it helps your brain produce feel-good-chemicals.Include cheese, chicken, soy products, eggs, tofu, fish, milk, nuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds to get adequate tryptophan.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan. Bananas are also high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Chamomile/ Herbal tea

Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect as recent clinical and laboratory research has determined that chamomile is not only relaxing, but significantly decreases anxiety and even fights depression. In one study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Centre, in Philadelphia, patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients taking (a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or medical condition intended to deceive the recipient).

Dark Chocolate

Pure dark chocolate without the added sugars or milk is great food for those with anxiety issues.Dark chocolate can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the harmful norepinephrine and epinephrine that can make you feel nervous and anxious. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed that people who drank a dark chocolate drink, equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day, felt calmer than those who did not.

Omega 3

Omega-3s from fish oil (EPA and DHA) are effective for alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms. A depletion of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain can be related to anxiety disorders, according to Jonathon Davidson and Henry Dreher, authors of "The Anxiety Book: Developing Strength in the Face of Fear. In a small randomized controlled trial of medical students, those who received omega-3 supplements for 3 months showed a 20% reduction in anxiety scores. So include oily fish and flaxseeds in your diet.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration nearly always leads to anxiety. In two recent studies, researchers at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory discovered the mental, mood and cognitive downside of even mild dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids.


Yogurt is rich in essential amino acid tryptophan which boosts serotonin. Eating probiotic-rich yogurt twice a day, for a month could help relieve anxiety and stress by reducing activity in the emotional region of the brain, a small new study suggests.

Foods to Avoid

Here’s a list of foods which tend to make you feel more agitated and therefore more anxious:

  • Coffee 
  • Caffeinated drinks (i.e. cola drinks, energy drinks)
  • Sodas
  • Refined sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Processed foods

All these foods tend to stimulate the body and nervous system aggravating the anxiety symptoms.So get started to makinghealthy dietary changes to ease the symptoms of anxiety, if it’s bothering you already.


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.