Essential Nutrition: 5 Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety

The right foods can be restorative and healing, and the wrong ones- anything but. This isn’t just an opinion, it’s proven. An article published by Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School tells us that the brain is like an expensive car. In order for it to run correctly, it needs a constant supply of premium fuel. This means eating high-quality foods that contain antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that nourish and protect the brain.

The article continues to discuss what happens when low-quality food is ingested. Processed foods (think fast-food) or refined foods harm the body, impairing brain function, increasing anxiety and exacerbating the symptoms of depression.

At our all-girls therapeutic boarding school, we take nutrition very seriously. In fact, we have in-house chefs that prepare healthy meals each day to help your daughter’s brain function correctly and to help reduce anxiety and depression.


How the Gut Determines Emotions

The foods your daughter eats have a lot to do with how she feels, but why? The right foods produce a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This feel-good neurotransmitter is produced by the brain, but also by the gut. The gastrointestinal tract has millions of neurons, which are influenced by good bacteria surrounding them. Without this good bacteria- which is absorbed from the right food- the serotonin isn’t produced. In fact, the bad bacteria can actually result in higher anxiety levels and increased stress.

What to Eat for Improved Serotonin Levels

Your daughter’s diet doesn’t have to change dramatically for good bacteria to grow in her gastrointestinal tract. She just has to make the right choices. At our boarding school for teen girls, we help by providing the best choices for her brain and gut. These include:

  • Whole Wheat Bread- Carbs help induce the increase of serotonin levels, but the right ones are important for brain health. Instead of processed options like sugar or white bread, we use whole wheat.
  • Foods That Contain Vitamin B- B vitamins like B1, folic acid and B12 can help reduce anxiety. Some people who are Vitamin B deficient may also experience symptoms of depression. Eating pork, beef, leafy greens and orange juice can help replace these vitamins.
  • Tryptophan-Rich Foods- Tryptophan produces feel-good chemicals in the brain and is available in several different foods, including chicken, turkey, milk, bananas, cheese and sesame seeds.
  • High-Protein Foods- Foods that contain large amounts of protein help increase dopamine and norepinephrine production in the brain. These help keep you alert, provide more energy and make you feel better. High-protein foods include Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs, beans, nuts and fish.
  • Salmon- Studies have shown that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help enhance moods and reduce anxiety. Find omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, such as lake trout, salmon, anchovies, mackerel, herring and sardines.

Nutritional Health at Our All-Girls Therapeutic School

Troubled teens come to Greenbrier suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma. We take every step possible to help them, including altering their nutrition and providing them with balanced meals full of stress-reducing minerals and vitamins. Learn more about how we can help your daughter. Call today.

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