If you're like most people, your anxiety level has gone up lately. And maybe you've seen what social media is advocating as a solution: #stressbaking — with thousands of pictures and recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, and other sugar-filled treats.
Although lab studies indicate that sugar does temporarily cool your body's stress response by suppressing your ability to crank out adrenaline, sweet treats also interfere with self-regulation of emotions, increase chronic inflammation, and boost your risk for many physical and mental health conditions.
In addition, a typical Western diet with lots of added sugars leads to a 25-35% greater risk of depression than a Mediterranean or Japanese diet does.
If you want to eat your way to true calmness, here are some foods that will do the trick:
• Probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi may quiet social anxiety, according to a study in the journal Psychiatric Research.
• Omega-3-rich foods like salmon and sardines also may help. A 12-week study that administered 2.5 grams a day of the omega-3s DHA and EPA to med students found that it reduced their anxiety by 20%.
• Foods loaded with specific polyphenols are thought to help relieve anxiety by helping protect brain neurons. Beans, nuts (especially walnuts), vegetables, and berries deliver substantial doses.
And then there's dark chocolate. A study in the International Journal of Health Sciences found it lowers perceived stress significantly. And that's tasty.