6 Foods That Promote Relaxation

If you’re experiencing nervousness, racing thoughts, difficulty getting to sleep, or even panic during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. This is an extremely stressful time; it’s only natural that we’d feel a little amped and uneasy.

If you’re having trouble relaxing, avoiding sugar and caffeine is a must. These ingredients can further stress our bodies and set us up for anxiety. On the flip side, there are foods that can help support our nervous system, increase our resiliency to stress, and even make us feel calm right after we eat them.

1. Kefir

A fermented drink that falls somewhere between yogurt and milk, kefir is a great addition to your social distancing routine. It can be made from dairy milk or nut milk and contains high amounts of beneficial bacteria, which support a healthy gut microbiome. At first glance, our gut health might seem unrelated to our nervous systems, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Studies have shown not only that stress can alter the microbiome in undesirable ways, but that anxiety could actually be alleviated by regulating gut bacteria.

2. Tart Cherries

Tart cherries contain high levels of various phytochemicals, including melatonin. You’ve probably heard of melatonin before; it’s known as the “sleep hormone” because our bodies release it in the evening to help us get to sleep. Well, studies have shown that consuming tart cherry juice increases melatonin levels and can improve sleep quality and duration.

3. Cucumbers

Have you ever wondered why cucumber water is so popular? It could be because the smell of cucumbers has natural stress-relieving properties. And it’s not only the smell, either; this low-sugar fruit also contains B vitamins, which help support our central nervous system.

4. Vegemite

You might not think of Vegemite as a health food, but one study, published in 2018, showed that people who consume yeast-based spreads—such as Marmite, Vegemite, Promite, and Aussiemite—have lower levels of anxiety and stress. According to the researchers, the B vitamin content in these spreads is likely to thank for their anxiety-reducing powers. To start using Vegemite, try spreading it thinly on one side of a grilled cheese sandwich.

5. Onions

Onions are one of the best sources of prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed healthy gut bacteria. As we now know, a balanced microbiome is essential for optimal mental health. Other sources of prebiotic fiber include leeks, bananas, garlic, and apples.

6. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium, which is often referred to as the “relaxation” mineral and is one of the top stress-relieving nutrients. Many of us are deficient in magnesium, as processed foods are virtually devoid of this mineral, but luckily, pumpkin seeds provide more than 150 mg of magnesium per cup, which is almost 50 percent of your daily recommended intake.