Studies show that many of us have turned to food for comfort during the pandemic, leading to weight gain. Unfortunately, we've turned to so-called "comfort foods," which experts call ultra-processed products, or more succinctly, junk foods. Not only do these foods pack on the pounds, they have a negative effect on your health. According to a 2012 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, people who ate junk food were 51% more likely to show signs of depression, according to Live Science.
A top nutritional psychiatrist says that eating the right foods can help reduce the stress and anxiety we've been feeling over the past months and even contribute to our health.
Dr. Uma Naidoo, author of "This is Your Brain on Food," tells CNBC that the pandemic "can also be an opportunity to use tools and practices to bring yourself towards a better mental well-being."
Here are her top choices of stress-busting foods:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and other cold-water fish are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide nourishing elements to the brain and bring our bodies back into balance. Omega-3s also help manage adrenalin levels to keep you cool, calm, and collected, says Dr. Heidi Hanna, chief energy officer of Synergy Brain Fitness.
- Spices. Naidoo, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that spices not only add flavor to foods, they contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help boost your mood. Curcumin, the ingredient found in turmeric, may reduce depressive symptoms, according to studies.
- Foods rich in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to anxiety, depression, and even decreased cognitive thinking, according to CNBC. Consume foods like fortified milk, eggs, salmon, and mushrooms.
- Probiotics. Studies have shown that having a healthy gut helps beat anxiety and depression and improves mood, says Hanna. Probiotics help create and maintain healthy gut bacteria and also boost your immune system. Supplements are available but you can find probiotics in fermented foods like kefir, a fermented yogurt drink, and kombucha. Miso, a Japanese fermented bean paste, is an excellent probiotic and can be found in miso soup.
- Dietary fiber. Studies have shown that high-fiber diets have been linked to reduced levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. Naidoo recommends eating lots of fruits and vegetables as well as legumes such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas. Oatmeal and brown rice are also full of fiber.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.