Pregnancy is a very exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. It’s normal to experience an increase in prenatal anxiety symptoms, including nervousness, restlessness, irritability, trouble sleeping, and a higher heart rate. It’s not just that anxiety can be uncomfortable and debilitating; being stressed can also weigh negatively on your pregnancy.
It’s important to do what you can to reduce stress and anxiety levels while expecting, and a great place to start is your diet. There are plenty of foods that can help combat anxiety symptoms and get you back to feeling your best, including the following 10 options.
The best fish to eat if you have anxiety is salmon. It’s packed full of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and DHA. Mayo Clinic explains that these Nutrients can help balance dopamine and serotonin levels in the brainwhich can help relax and calm down a person.
Fatty acids have also been linked to reduced inflammation and brain cell dysfunction, which is often thought to be a contributor to anxiety.
Do not hesitate to throw a handful of spinach in your meals while expecting. WebMD explains that spinach is high in magnesium, which can help people feel calmer and can combat depression. Magnesium also has anti-inflammatory benefits, can help prevent migraines, and supports heart health.
Chamomile has been a traditional medicine for thousands of years, and for good reason. Like salmon, it can help regulate the brain’s neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, thereby improving mood. It’s also believed to help balance the brain’s HPA axiswhich controls the body’s stress response, and has anti-inflammatory powers, which can also alleviate anxiety.
7 Green Tea
Don’t just limit yourself to chamomile tea. Green tea is also proven to help improve mental health. This tea contains an amino acid known as L-theanine, which research has found can help reduce anxiety symptoms. One study found that people who consume L-theanine beverages have lower cortisol levels, a hormone linked to anxiety.
Eggs are a great source of vitamin D, which makes them good food to combat anxiety. Medical News Today explains that newer research has linked vitamin D deficiency to mood disorders, so increasing vitamin D intake may help improve depression and anxiety.
In addition, eggs also contain an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps aid in the production of serotonin. This neurotransmitter is responsible for a variety of brain functions, but increasing its levels can help with mood, anxiety, behavior, and more.
Berries are an excellent option to boost energy and satisfy a sweet craving in pregnancy. They can also help combat anxiety symptoms. This is because berries are a rich source of antioxidantswhich help protect the body’s cells from stress and can ease negative feelings.
Fruits aren’t the only food you’ll find antioxidants in. Many vegetables are also rich sources as well as other fruits like nuts, whole grains, and even some meats.
If you love cooking with spices, add turmeric into the rotation to help combat prenatal anxiety. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help promote brain health and reduce anxiety. One study found that people taking 80 milligrams of curcumin per day had significantly lowered anxiety levels versus participants using a placebo.
3 Dark Chocolate
If you’re craving something sweet in pregnancy, this is your sign to indulge. Dark chocolate may specifically help alleviate anxiety. For instance, one study found that folks who consume dark chocolate regularly have lower depressive symptoms than those who don’t.
Mayo Clinic explains that dark chocolate contains flavonols, which increase blood flow to the brain and promote better cell-signaling pathways, which can improve your response during stressful situations. Other theories suggest that simply the comforting taste of dark chocolate may help anxiety symptoms.
2 Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re looking for something to snack on in pregnancy, try pumpkin seeds. These contain high levels of potassium and zinc, both of which have been found to improve mood. Potassium can also help balance electrolytes and blood pressure, while zinc is important for brain development and emotional regulation.
Yogurt is packed full of probiotics, which help support a healthy relationship between the gastrointestinal tract and brain. Probiotics can help reduce inflammation, increase the production of neurotransmitters to boost mood, and overall boost mental health.
One study specifically found that women who ate 125 grams of yogurt twice a day for a month had better control over their emotions and sensations, which is believed to contribute to lower anxiety.
For more information on how your prenatal diet can help combat anxiety, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare practitioner. It’s a wise rule of thumb to speak with your doctor before introducing any new foods (especially in large quantities) into your diet while pregnant.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Pub Med, Pub Med, Pub Med, Medical News Today, WebMD, Better Health,