• Miki Massey

Anti inflammatory Foods That Help to Reduce Stress

Eating more foods that reduce inflammation and supply brain-specific nutrients has the potential to improve anxiety symptoms. Try adding these nine anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to see if they help.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric's main active component — curcumin — is what gives the spice its yellow colour. Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which may help improve symptoms of depression, arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's. It can be used so many different way including stews, soups, curries, tea and dessert. A popular drink is Golden Milk - see recipe below.

  • 2 cups milk of choice

  • 1 tsp. ground Cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper

  • 2 tsp. Honey

  • 1 tsp. Turmeric powder

  • 2 tsp. Coconut oil

  • 1/4 tsp. Ginger powder


  1. To start, blend all of the ingredients in a bowl or large cup. An immersion blender or a countertop blender can be used to make the mixing process more thorough.

  2. After the milk is blended well, transfer the mixture into a saucepan and warm it on low for about 15 minutes. It's essential that the milk is not allowed to boil since this will cause the mixture to bubble over.

  3. Finally, transfer the heated milk to a favourite cup and garnish with some thyme leaves, fresh almonds or a cinnamon stick. This recipe serves a large portion to one person, or it can be divided into two smaller servings.

2. Almonds

Low magnesium levels are associated with an increased likelihood of both anxiety and depression. Research suggests that increasing magnesium intake can ease anxiety, and almonds are a top source (a 1-ounce serving provides 20% of the Daily Value). Other good sources of magnesium are cashews, peanuts and leafy greens like spinach and beans. Homemade granola or overnight oats with a sprinkling of nuts is a great way to increase you magnesium.

3. Eggs

Eggs are a quick, high-quality source of protein and the anti-inflammatory nutrient choline. Choline is a component of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter involved in memory and mood, and low choline levels are associated with higher anxiety levels. Two eggs contain 50% DV for choline, as well as other anti-inflammatory nutrients that impact brain communication like vitamin B12, selenium and zinc.

4. Salmon

Higher intakes of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are associated with lower risk of anxiety but may also ease existing anxiety. These fatty acids ease neuroinflammation in the brain, as well as enhance neuron communication. DHA and EPA are only found in fish with a higher fat content like salmon, sardines, mackerel and sea bass, so try to get two to three servings a week of these. Fish oil supplements are another way to get these fatty acids, but research is inconclusive as to if they are as effective as eating seafood.

5. Probiotic-Rich Foods

Gut health influences the ability for inflammation to develop, which means it also influences risk for mental health issues like anxiety. Strengthening the gut's microbe barrier by eating certain "good" bacterial strains helps by preventing inflammatory compounds from entering the body, which may decrease anxiety. Research is limited and not all good bacteria have an effect, but two foods that do appear to help anxiety are fermented foods—such as sauerkraut and kimchi—and dairy products that contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

6. Asparagus

Did you know that asparagus extract is an approved functional food used for anxiety in China because of its anti-anxiety effects? Researchers aren't clear exactly why it works, but some speculate that the vegetable's folate content plays a role since the body uses metabolized folate to make certain neurotransmitters. High levels of antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene also help to reduce neuron inflammation.

7. Blueberries

Oxidative stress creates new inflammation, and both anxiety and depression are associated with lower antioxidant levels in the body. This suggests that a lack of antioxidants from food may lead to inflammation that can potentially trigger new—or exacerbate existing—mental health issues. Eating antioxidant-rich foods is vital, and blueberries are packed with polyphenolic compounds that act as antioxidants to protect brain cells from free radicals. These compounds also promote proper brain functioning, particularly during stressful periods, and ease neuroinflammation.

8. Spinach

According to a recent study, leafy greens like spinach have high levels of nutrients specifically associated with mental health. This makes them a top choice to help prevent and to ease conditions like anxiety and depression. These nutrients include minerals like folate and magnesium, but also include vitamin C and beta carotene, which ease current inflammation and prevent oxidative stress.

9. Lean Animal Proteins

Inadequate intake of vitamins B6 and B12 can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety since they are needed to make neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that control mood and cognition. Getting adequate intake of B6 and B12 can be difficult, but lean animal proteins like beef, pork and chicken are a good source of both, along with zinc and the antioxidant selenium, both of which also impact brain health. When it comes to beef, it should be grass fed (not grain fed) and other meats should be free range and organic. This doesn't negate the positive benefits seen from eating more plant proteins, but look for ways to incorporate lean animal proteins two to three times per week.

If you are looking to implement an anti inflammatory meal plan please get in touch. I have weekly menus and lots of recipes that I can share with you. Email me

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