Foods that Influence Anxiety and Depression

Most of us can relate to feeling anxious before speaking in front of a group or being depressed due to a stressful situation in our lives, but did you know that the food we eat can help decrease or increase anxiety and depression?


Foods that Can Help Diminish Anxiety

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Research from the University of Pittsburgh demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids are key in helping to control anxiety – particularly in teens. The scientists found that an omega-3 deficiency can compromise the behavioral health of adolescents, not only because their diet is deficient but because their parents’ diet was deficient as well. This is of particular concern because adolescence is a very vulnerable time for developing psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and addiction. The lead researcher remarked that it is astounding that a relatively common dietary change can have generational effects. This means what we eat isn’t only impacting ourselves, but our offspring as well.

Sources of omega 3 include: wild fish, grass-fed livestock, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal and flaxseed, kale and Brussels sprouts.

Fermented foods

Researchers have also discovered that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms. Some good fermented foods include: kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickles and kimchi.

Foods that Contribute to Anxiety

A new study in mice reveals that increased body weight and high blood sugar as a result of consuming a high-fat diet can cause anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as measurable changes in the brain. Further, the beneficial effects of an antidepressant were blunted in mice fed a high-fat diet.

In addition, Emory Health Sciences found that the consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress,

High fructose syrup is commonly found in: soda, juice cocktails, cereal, nutrition bars, yogurt, salad dressings and baked goods.

Foods that Can Help Diminish Depression

Eating a Mediterranean diet comprising of vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese and low in processed meats, is associated with preventing the onset of depression, according to research. A large study of 15,093 people suggests depression could be linked with nutrient deficits from a typical American diet.

Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate.

If you or your children are mainly eating processed foods, this is not only impacting your physical health, but your mental health as well. Changing food habits can be overwhelming, but aim for starting slowly – replacing two meals the first week with unprocessed foods. Then set a goal to add another healthy meal every other week.

Foods that Contribute to Depression

New research suggests that drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults while drinking coffee was tied to a slightly lower risk. In addition, an unhealthy diet characterized by a high consumption of sausages, processed meats, sugar-containing desserts and snacks, manufactured foods, and baked or processed potatoes was associated with an increased prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms.

Furthermore, a diet high in refined carbohydrates may lead to an increased risk for new-onset depression in postmenopausal women, according to a study.

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In addition to our 15 minute complimentary consultation, our blog features recipes and other tips that will help you get your emotional, physical and mental health on track.


Compiled and written by Debbie Lindgren