• Remana Jamal

Can Your Diet Fight Anxiety and Depression?

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Few if any people are becoming aware of the relationship between diet and depression while they clearly understand the relationship between nutrient deficiencies and physical disease. Anxiety and depression are often associated with each other; most of those with depression also suffer from anxiety.

Diet is an essential part of psychological health that it has largely inspired a whole medicinal field called nutritional psychiatry. Your brain works better when it only gets the right fuel, like an expensive car. Eating high-quality foods containing vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants nourish and help protect the brain against oxidative damage. Unfortunately, when you don’t feed your brain the right premium fuel it’ll be hurt. There’re certain nutritional ways to help ease and fight your symptoms of anxiety and depression.

· Avoid sugar

The body produces insulin after consuming sugar to help absorb the excess sugar in the blood and regulate blood sugar levels. You may feel nervous, foggy, irritable, panicky, and exhausted by all these ups and downs. Your symptoms of anxiety and depression will get worse when consuming sugary foods and drinks. Sugar can destroy the ability of your body to react to stress, which might trigger your anxiety and stop you from addressing the cause of stress. Also, excess sugar intake causes imbalances in some brain chemicals. These imbalances can cause depression.

· Probiotic

The bacteria in our gut can interact with the brain as well as several processes that could play an important role in depression and anxiety, and nutrition affects the quality and diversity of the gut microbiota. Researches have shown that when people take probiotics (supplements that include the good gut bacteria), their anxiety levels, stress, and mental view enhanced, compared to people who have not taken probiotics. The good gut bacteria not only control what your gut digests and absorbs but also the level of inflammation in your body, mood, and energy. A study showed fermented foods decreased social anxiety in some teenagers, while several studies found good bacteria consumption to boost joy in some individuals. Some fermented foods include yogurt, cheese, miso soup, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented soy products.

· Serotonin

Serotonin is a chemical transporter, which is thought to be a mood stabilizer. It’s also thought that serotonin will improve brain activity and ease anxiety. Research has found that the level of serotonin can affect mood and behavior, and the chemical is generally associated with feeling better. The essential amino acid “Tryptophan” helps in the production of serotonin, which means high tryptophan foods, can relieve anxiety and depression symptoms. Since tryptophan is an amino acid (protein); this means high protein foods can help ease anxiety and depression. These foods are cheese, eggs, chicken, salmon, nuts and seeds, tofu, turkey, and pineapples.

· Vitamins & minerals

Vitamin D receptors are founded all over the body, which includes your brain. Recent research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have depression. In most cases, exposure to sunlight is a simple, practical way to get vitamin D, try exposing your face, hands, legs, and arms 2-3 times a week no longer than 15 minutes. Dairy products and fatty fish are also high in Vitamin D.

Research also has shown a relationship between low selenium and low moods. High selenium foods are Brazil nuts, seafood, seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes.

· Omega 3 fats

The omega-3 fatty acid is strongly related to both brain function and mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that people who don’t regularly eat fish, a great source of fats, may be more likely to experience depression. Examples of high omega-3 foods are, fatty fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and canola and soybean oil.

Pay some attention to how you feel about consuming different types of food in the short and the long-term. Diet is definitely part of the puzzle, but physical activity, good psychological treatment, medicine, good sleep, adequate access to nature and a healthy lifestyle are also part of the puzzle.


Sathyanarayana Rao, T., Asha, M., Ramesh, B. and Jagannatha Rao, K. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression, and mental illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2), p.77.

WebMD. (2020). Diet and Depression.

Webmd.com. (2020). Vitamin D: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.

Monique Tello, M. (2020). Diet and depression - Harvard Health Blog.

MD, E. (2020). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food - Harvard Health Blog.

Npr.org. (2020). NPR Choice page.

Healthline. (2020). Your Anxiety Loves Sugar. Eat These 3 Things Instead.

Medical News Today. (2020). 9 foods that help reduce anxiety.

Gibson, E. (2018). Tryptophan supplementation and serotonin function: genetic variations in behavioral effects. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 77(2), pp.174-188.

Healthline. (2020). Are there any natural ways to increase serotonin levels?.

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