We know that food plays a role in our physical health and appearance, but did you know that it can also affect our mental health and well-being? When we think of gut health foods, we think about digestion and bloat, maybe even weight loss. In reality, our gut is our second brain. So making sure the foods you eat align with how you want to look AND feel is important.
If you often find yourself in a slump or unnecessarily irritable, you might be interested in learning about foods that reduce anxiety and depression. What’s the use of looking your best if you don’t have the proper mindset to match? Today’s blog is all about connecting the dots between diet and ways to relieve stress, and six of my favorite mood-boosting foods.
Diet & Stress: How Are They Related?
If you’ve ever meal prepped for the week, done a sugar detox, or even a mild cleanse, you may have felt the positive effects of eating a clean diet. On the flip side, if you’ve ever eaten fast food for an extended period of time, drank excessive amounts of alcohol, or indulged in sweets a few too many days in a row, you know the weighed down feeling of not fueling your body with what it wants. These are both examples of how the foods we eat impacts our mindset.
Some key examples of this can be feeling energized, motivated, and clear-headed when giving your body real, whole foods. When we eat processed, high-sugar foods, we can feel heavy, lethargic, and experience brain fog.
This is because our gut is our second brain. I mentioned that in the introduction to this blog. If you’ve never heard that before, I’ll break it down for you. Our enteric nervous system (ENS) is located in our gastrointestinal tract, or digestive system. Our ENS relies on the same type of neurotransmitters that are found in our central nervous system, which make up our brain and special cord. Because of this connection, it has prompted many people to refer to our gut as our second brain.
Knowing this, prioritizing gut health foods and proper digestion are great ways to relieve stress and poor moods.
Nourish Your Body W/ These 5 Stress-Reducing Foods
If you want to improve the way you think and feel with the help of food, try these six mood-boosting and stress-relieving foods:
If you’ve ever been offered chamomile tea, someone was trying to offer you a delicious sippable chill pill. In the world of herbalism, chamomile is often associated with soothing love and comfort. One study found that chamomile exhibits antidepressant activity, making it an incredible and accessible option for people dealing with anxiety and depression. Chamomile can be enjoyed as tea or in capsules.
These delicious superfood berries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar — making it great for our body and mind. They’re also high in anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory effects, making them great for calming stress and inflammation in the body.  The less inflamed we are, the less irritable we can become.
This fish is an incredible source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and is one of my favorite gut health foods. Not only is it great for our hair, skin, and nails, but it’s also been shown to reduce depression.  There are so many ways to enjoy salmon—raw, cooked over rice, on a salad, and more. Opt for wild-caught salmon when possible for maximum benefits of this mood-boosting fish.
4. Reishi mushrooms
Mushrooms are truly magical. One strain that I really love for anyone dealing with anxiety or depression is reishi mushrooms.  They are great for helping ease the body and mind in times of high stress. I like to add it to my coffee, smoothies, or make it into a cacao latte mixture. Mushrooms can be quite earthy, so if you want the effects without the flavor, opt for capsules instead.
One of my favorite reasons for suggesting carrots for reducing stress is they provide the crunch-factor so many high-wired people are looking for. If you can think of times you’ve reached for chips or crispy cookies, the crunch can really help distract and relieve tension we hold in our jaw. Carrots are also high in B6 which can help strengthen our neurotransmitters, aka our nervous system.
Citrus is well known for being high in vitamin C, especially oranges. Thanks to this powerful vitamin, oranges have been shown to help reduce cortisol stress.  They’re also high in antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Enjoy this delightful fruit, sometimes referred to as nature’s candy, the next time you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.