The Power of an Anti-Anxiety Diet – 7 Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health


Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

In a world where the link between physical and mental health is gaining recognition, a growing body of research is shedding light on the profound impact of our food choices on our minds.

This emerging field, known as nutritional psychiatry, explores how specific foods can potentially enhance mental well-being, alleviate anxiety, and even discuss about some brain foods to boost mental health. As concerns about mental health among Indian students escalate, experts are turning to dietary strategies as part of a holistic approach to combat anxiety.

Uma Naidoo, a renowned nutritional psychiatrist and the Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital emphasizes the importance of an anti-anxiety diet in improving mental well-being.

In her latest book, “Calm Your Mind With Food: A Revolutionary Guide to Controlling Your Anxiety,” Naidoo delves into the intricate connection between the gut and the brain, challenging the skepticism some patients express about the distant role of the gut in mental health.

The Gut-Brain Connection:

Scientists have long recognized the gut-brain connection, often referring to the gut as “the second brain.” The vagus nerve, extending from the brain through the abdomen and intestines, contributes to feelings of anxiety experienced in the stomach.

Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter affecting mood, is primarily produced in the intestines. Recently, researchers have focused on the gut-brain axis, the communication network between the central nervous system and gut microbes, revealing an association between an imbalance in gut microbes and anxiety and depression.

Choosing the Right Foods for Mental Health:

Naidoo contends that food choices profoundly impact the microbiome, and by selecting the right foods while avoiding detrimental ones, individuals can positively influence their mental health.

Her dietary recommendations include a focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and unprocessed grains, while urging the avoidance of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy fats commonly found in packaged snacks and deep-fried foods.

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

In addition to general dietary guidelines, Naidoo recommends an anti-anxiety diet tailored to give mental health a boost and calm the mind. It is intended to complement existing anxiety treatments for those already seeking professional help. Here are seven key brain foods highlighted by Naidoo:

Extra Dark Chocolate:

  • Rich in iron and polyphenols, extra dark chocolate is associated with mood improvement.
  • Pair with citrus fruits for added benefits, as vitamin C aids iron absorption.
  • Look for natural chocolate with 75% cacao or more.

Leafy Greens:

  • Packed with fiber, folate, iron, and lutein, an antioxidant linked to depression reduction in research.
  • Add various colored leafy greens to salads, steam spinach, stir fry, or incorporate into soups.


  • Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, rich in sulforaphane, which helps combat gut inflammation.
  • Chopping broccoli before cooking and letting it sit enhances sulforaphane levels.


  • A powerhouse of fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium.
  • Magnesium intake is linked to depression, and avocados provide a wealth of essential nutrients.
  • Consume a quarter or half of a small avocado a few times a week.

Green Tea:

  • Contains antioxidants like EGCG and L-theanine, providing a calming effect.
  • L-theanine supplements have shown promise in reducing stress-related symptoms.

Chia Seeds or Flaxseeds:

  • Excellent sources of omega-3s crucial for brain health.
  • Incorporate into salads, smoothies, or oatmeal for a daily dose.

Beans and Lentils:

  • Rich in fiber, vital for gut health, and associated with lower anxiety levels.
  • Add to stews, soups, salads, and spreads for a nutrient-packed option.

Implementing Change and Seeking Balance:

As the mental health crisis intensifies, experts advocate for a holistic approach to support individuals in navigating anxiety. Naidoo’s insights into the potential of an anti-anxiety diet offer a practical and accessible avenue for individuals to take charge of their mental well-being.

Balancing mental health, dietary choices, and professional support creates a comprehensive strategy for a healthier and more resilient future.

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

New Study Reveals Link Between Depression, Anorexia, and Gut Microbiota

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

A recent study published in BMC Psychiatry sheds light on a potential connection between major depressive disorder (MDD), anorexia, and gut microbiota. Led by researchers at the First Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, the study suggests that individuals with both depression and anorexia exhibit distinct patterns in their gut bacteria, particularly involving the presence of a specific bacterium called Blautia.

Depression, characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in daily activities, affects millions worldwide and is often accompanied by a high risk of suicide. Anorexia, marked by reduced appetite and distorted body image, commonly co-occurs with depression, complicating treatment efforts.

Gut Bacteria’s Role in Depression and Anorexia

Up Next

Anxiety Alleviation: Dietitians Recommend 4 Drinks to Lower Anxiety

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

In a world where stress and anxiety are prevalent, with up to 19% of U.S. adults experiencing prolonged anxiety, the quest for effective coping mechanisms continues.

While traditional treatments like medication and therapy remain pillars of support, emerging research suggests that dietary choices, including hydration, might play a significant role in managing anxiety levels.

Drinks to Lower Anxiety You Must Know About

Here, we delve into the top drinks to lower anxiety recommended by dietitians –

1. Chamomile Tea: Renowned for its calming properties, chamomile tea contains apigenin, a flavonoid compound known for its anti-anxiety effects. Wan Na Chan, M.P.H., RD,

Up Next

Managing Autoimmune Disorders Through Yoga: Effective Practices to Consider

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

In recent years, the intersection between holistic practices like yoga and conventional medicine has garnered significant attention, particularly in the realm of managing autoimmune disorders.

A burgeoning body of research suggests that incorporating yoga into treatment plans can offer tangible benefits for individuals grappling with autoimmune conditions. From rheumatoid arthritis to lupus, yoga’s gentle yet powerful techniques hold promise in alleviating symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

Yoga, with its emphasis on mindful movement, breathwork, and relaxation, provides a multifaceted approach to managing autoimmune disorders. The practice not only addresses physical symptoms but also targets the underlying stress and inflammation that often exacerbate these conditions.

Up Next

Pregnancy Linked to Accelerated Aging Process in Women, Study Finds

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers shed light on a compelling connection between pregnancy and the aging process in women.

The study, led by Calen Ryan, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Ageing Center, suggests that women who have experienced pregnancy may exhibit more signs of biological aging compared to those who haven’t. Intriguingly, the research also indicates that the aging process may accelerate with multiple pregnancies.

Ryan commented on the findings, stating, “We’re discovering that pregnancy leaves lasting effects on the body. While not all are negative, it appears to heighten the risk of certain diseases and overall mortality.”


Up Next

Unlocking Hoarding Disorder: Understanding, Support, and Effective Solutions

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

Hoarding disorder, a mental health condition characterized by persistent difficulty in parting with possessions and accumulating excessive clutter, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about this often misunderstood disorder and how to support those who struggle with it.

Defining Hoarding Disorder:

Hoarding disorder is a complex mental health condition marked by a compulsive urge to accumulate possessions, leading to overwhelming clutter and difficulty discarding items.

According to experts like Brad Schmidt and Gregory Chasson, individuals with hoarding disorder often experience distress at the thought of parting with their belongings and may also have a strong desire to acquire new items.

Up Next

Understanding Cherophobia: Signs, Causes, and Coping Strategies

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

Cherophobia, a condition characterized by an aversion to happiness, has garnered attention for its impact on mental well-being.

Derived from the Greek word “Chairo,” meaning “I rejoice,” cherophobia manifests as an irrational fear of experiencing joy. Therapist Carolyn Rubenstein explains that this fear often stems from anxious thoughts associated with past trauma or childhood experiences linking happiness to negative outcomes.

Signs of Cherophobia

Recognizing the signs of cherophobia is crucial for identifying individuals who may be struggling with this condition:

Feelings of Guilt and Unworthiness: Those with cherophobia experience guilt and unwor

Up Next

Stress Can Lead to Cortisol Belly: Here’s How to Fix It

Brain Foods to Boost Mental Health

Stress can affect our lives in many ways, from our mental health to our relationships, but it can also lead to physical symptoms such as ‘cortisol belly’. Cortisol belly, named after the stress hormone, has been widely discussed on social platforms such as TikTok, with users and experts explaining how it occurs, and theorizing what could be done about it.

While you may not have heard of the term ‘cortisol belly’ before, you might have heard of stubborn belly fat or stress belly, which are essentially the same thing. This is because it refers to the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue around the stomach, which has been linked to prolonged exposure to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

What Is Cortisol Belly?

According to dietitian