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Can Mediterranean Diet Help Reduce Anxiety?

Below we share how the Mediterranean diet can help reduce anxiety.

Can Mediterranean Diet Help Reduce Anxiety?

Olive oil, avocados, and nuts provide essential fatty acids that support brain health

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, and healthy fats, is renowned for its benefits to physical health. Emerging research also suggests it can help reduce anxiety and boost mental health. Read on as we share how the Mediterranean diet can help reduce anxiety.

Here are 10 ways the Mediterranean diet can help reduce anxiety:

1. High in omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and sardines, have anti-inflammatory properties and are crucial for brain health. They help regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which can influence mood and anxiety levels. Omega-3s enhance neural connectivity and plasticity, potentially reducing symptoms of anxiety and improving overall mental well-being.

2. Rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds combat oxidative stress, which is linked to anxiety and depression. By protecting brain cells from damage, antioxidants support cognitive function and emotional regulation.

3. Anti-inflammatory effects

Chronic inflammation is associated with anxiety and depression. The Mediterranean diet's anti-inflammatory foods, like olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish, reduce systemic inflammation. Lower inflammation levels can improve brain function and mood, reducing the risk of anxiety disorders.

4. High fibre content

Fibre from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables promotes gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to lower anxiety through the gut-brain axis. A balanced gut microbiome enhances the production of neurotransmitters and reduces inflammation, supporting mental health.

5. Low in processed foods and sugars

Processed foods and sugars can lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. The Mediterranean diet minimises these fluctuations. Stable blood sugar levels help maintain steady energy and mood, reducing irritability and anxiety.

6. Rich in magnesium

Magnesium, found in nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains, plays a role in regulating neurotransmitters and reducing the release of stress hormones. Adequate magnesium levels support relaxation and calmness, helping to reduce anxiety.

7. Contains tryptophan-rich foods

Tryptophan, an amino acid found in foods like turkey, nuts, and seeds, is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Increased serotonin levels can enhance mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.

8. Incorporates fermented foods

Fermented foods like yogurt and kefir contain probiotics, which support gut health and the gut-brain axis. A healthy gut microbiome can improve mood and reduce anxiety by influencing brain function and neurotransmitter production.

9. Includes folate-rich foods

Folate, found in leafy greens, legumes, and fruits, is essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Adequate folate intake supports cognitive function and emotional well-being, potentially reducing anxiety.

10. Promotes healthy fats

Healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, and nuts provide essential fatty acids that support brain health and hormone regulation. These fats are crucial for maintaining the structure and function of brain cells, which can help stabilise mood and reduce anxiety.

Incorporating the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle can provide a holistic approach to managing anxiety and improving overall mental health through these various mechanisms.

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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