What you eat can make a surprising difference to your mental wellbeing. If you're feeling anxious or stressed, it's important to cut out sugary foods as these play havoc with your blood-sugar levels and can make your mood plummet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet - inlcuding the six stress-busting foods shown below - can help to promote calm.
See also: Seven best superfoods for women over 50
See also: Six best superfoods for men over 50
Eating a Mediterranean-style diet – including oily fish - can help to reduce depression and anxiety, according to researchers from the University of South Australia. Experts say that omega-3 fatty acids help to keep the brain healthy and may keep cortisol and adrenaline levels under control. One study from Oregon State University found that adults who took omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the group who were given a placebo. Try to eat oily fish two to three times a week. If you don't like fish, consider taking an omega-3 fatty acids supplement or add flaxseeds to your diet.
Blueberries are bursting with antioxidants and contain high amounts of vitamin C – both of which are good for helping to reduce stress. Antioxidants help the body to produce the feel-good chemical dopamine, which can boost your mood. Meanwhile, researchers in Germany tested the effect of vitamin C on people suffering from stress. They found that taking a high dose of the vitamin helped to reduce levels of the hormone cortisol and return elevated blood pressure to normal.
Research suggests that eating fermented foods, such as natural yoghurt, may help to improve gut health and promote mental wellness. Researchers at the University of Missouri tested the stress response of a certain species of fish. They found that the animals responded differently to stress after being given high doses of probiotic supplements – and are now interested in finding out whether similar results could be achieved with humans.
4. Chamomile tea
Chamomile has long been celebrated for its calming properties. As well as being a muscle relaxant that acts as a nerve tonic, chamomile tea help you feel calmer and sleep better – so is a good option if worries are keeping you awake at night.
5. Spinach and other dark greens
Spinach and other dark greens are high in folate and vitamin b12, both of which can help to alleviate anxiety. Spinach is also high in magnesium, which helps to regulate cortisol levels, promoting feelings of calm. Just one cup of spinach contains 40 per cent of your recommended daily dose.
6. Protein, fibre, and good fat
If you want to reduce stress and anxiety, make sure your diet contains enough protein, fibre and good fats - a salad with avocado and turkey is a good combination of all three. Avocadoes are rich in monounsaturated fat and contain potassium, which may help to lower blood pressure. They also contain B vitamins, a lack of which has been linked with feelings of anxiety.
Turkey contains tryptophan - an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, which promotes feelings of happiness and well-being. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience found that taking tryptophan supplements helped to make argumentative people (based on personality tests) calmer within just two weeks.