According to data from the European Panic Disorders Association (Eurodap) 79% of people have frequent and intense physical manifestations of anxiety such as tachycardia and shortness of breath and as many as 1 in 3 people in the country, says the Panic and Anxiety Free Association, (Alpa), suffers from real attacks. It is women who are most affected.
But the cases are also increasing among men. And there is no shame in declaring it. From pop stars Rita Ora, Adele and Lady Gaga to the actors of the village Alessandro Gassmann and Carlo Verdone, there are many who have confessed to having suffered from problems of this type. Among the scholars the hypothesis of the origin is getting wider and wider " alimentary ”of anxiety.
«The foods we eat have a dynamic impact, whether positive or negative, on brain chemistry. They can regulate mood, emotions and the path of signals sent by the brain ». The anti-anxiety diet is explained by the American dietician and diabetologist Ali Miller. The confirmation also comes from several studies that in recent years have investigated the correlation between what we eat and emotional disorders.
A question of neurotransmitters
"For years we have believed that food was just a" fuel "that kept the body functional and functioning, neglecting its effect on emotional well-being," comments Dr. Tiziana Stallone, nutrition biologist.
"Today we know that what we eat acts at the level of the mesolinbic system, the emotional core of the brain," explains the expert. In fact, it promotes the production of neurotransmitters linked to well-being.
"Some foods such as chocolate contain, for example, bioactive substances capable of promoting the production of endorphins, the hormones that help you feel calmer and more relaxed."
Pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, whole grains, white meat and bananas instead they favor the synthesis of serotonin, the happiness hormone, thanks to the tryptophan content. Foods such as fish, avocado, on the other hand, are rich in tyrosine. This amino acid promotes the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, neurotransmitters that promote motivation and support mood.Unfortunately, in moments of anxiety we are unfortunately more and more inclined to overindulge with sweet foods or processed foods.
"" Palatable "foods, that is fatty and salty ones (chips, snacks, baked goods, nuts) or sweet and fatty (biscuits, sweets, snacks) favor the production of endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters also linked to emotion, which however, in addition to giving satisfaction and momentarily reassuring us, they have the disadvantage of stimulating the appetite and making people eat more », says Dr. Stallone.
Fruits and vegetables protect us
This is supported by an English research conducted by the University of Warwick. The researchers observed that those who consumed twice as much vegetables had a lower risk of experiencing anxiety and depression due to the protective effects of these foods on the neuronal circuits involved in regulating mood.
The confirmation also comes from another study conducted by University College London which compared diets higher in fruit and vegetables, compared to others full of saturated fats and sugars. It turned out that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of having negative moods by 33% which can give rise to depression.
"Before confirming this hypothesis, further studies are needed," explains the expert. «Surely the balance of nutrients and in particular the association of carbohydrates and proteins with each meal facilitates the sense of satisfaction, favoring the constant flow of tryptophan and carbohydrates, essential for the synthesis of serotonin, the" molecule of happiness ". On the other hand, an unbalanced and restrictive diet or a rigid and privative diet can promote anxiety and aggression », says the expert.
The role of pre and probiotics
Several researches have also highlighted the relationship between unbalanced bacterial flora (the so-called dysbiosis) and the appearance of anxiety and depression. A study conducted by the University of Oxford has highlighted how consuming prebiotic foods (chicory, artichoke, onion, asparagus, etc.) helps prevent the onset of disorders.
While researchers from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (in China) have speculated that taking probiotics (yogurt, miso, kefir, and other fermented foods) might help relieve anxiety. However, the studies are in their infancy.
"They do not yet allow us to understand what are the complex mechanisms underlying the correlation between microbiota and anxiety nor for the creation of validated guidelines for appropriate therapeutic interventions", concludes nutritionist Tiziana Stallone.
A DAILY MENU
Taken from the book The anti anxiety diet (Tre60, € 16,90) by Dr. Ali Miller.
1 portion of coconut and chia pudding (see page 28) 1 soft-boiled egg
10 toasted macadamia nuts 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes.
1 or 2 servings of nori seaweed and turkey rolls (see page 28)
2 balls of mango and dried fruit
40g purple cabbage 115-170g grilled white fish topped with chili powder and 2 teaspoons avocado oil, garnished with chopped almonds, 2 teaspoons of herbs and served on a bed of lettuce.
Dr. Miller's recipes
- 1. Coconut and chia seed pudding
For 6 people
Pour 480 ml of whole coconut milk, 100 g of chia seeds, 40 g of coarse coconut flakes, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom into a bowl. ground and 2 tablespoons of amber maple syrup.
Mix all the ingredients with the help of a whisk until they are combined. Then, pour the mixture into 6 glass jars with lids and place them in the refrigerator. After an hour, mix the mixture two or three times and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours.
It's good because. Chia seeds contain soluble fiber which supports intestinal health. In addition, they stimulate motility, counteracting constipation and the accumulation of toxins and waste substances.
- 2. Nori seaweed and turkey rolls
For 4 people
Arrange 4 sheets of nori seaweed with the shiny side facing down. Mash 1 avocado cut in half and without the stone in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt and the juice of one lemon. Spread the avocado on the nori seaweed sheets with the help of a spatula. Add 2-3 slices of roasted turkey and 2-3 strips of bell pepper horizontally to the bottom quarter of the nori sheets.
Roll up the sheets one at a time, starting from the bottom and stopping after passing the pepper. Add 60 grams of green leafy vegetables to the remaining space. Finish rolling the seaweed sheets, leaving 2-3 cm free. Wet your index and middle fingers in lukewarm water and pass them over the top of the seaweed. Seal the roll using more water. Cut them into slices using a sharp knife and serve to the table.
They do well because. Nori seaweed is an excellent source of tyrosine, a substance essential for the production of neurotransmitters related to well-being including dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline. Taken with tryptophan present in turkey, it improves mood. The pepper, rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, helps the well-being of the adrenal glands.