Health

The Best Foods to Help Manage Anxiety (And the WORST)

by Cristina Corvino 3:00 AM, January 22, 2018

Aired January 22, 2018

Do you have a drained brain?

Well, you need to know what a drained brain is before you can answer that, right?

Allow the New York Times bestselling author of the upcoming book Heal Your Drained Brain, Dr. Mike Dow, to fill you in.

"A drained brain is when you are stressed, frazzled and fatigued," the doctor explains.

Sound familiar?

Well, according to the doc, 350 million people around the world have an anxiety-related disorder.

"[And] when you don’t fix it and you don’t take my advice," he stresses, "you are four times more likely to develop the number one cause of preventable death, and that’s high blood pressure."

Plus, he stresses, "Women who have panic attacks [are] more likely to have a heart attack."

Wait, it gets scarier. 🙈

According to Dr. Mike, when the stress hormone cortisol increases (A.K.A. when you’re super, super stressed), part of your brain could literally shrink.

What?! Nooo.

Now, while there’s a saliva cortisol test that he discusses on the show, Dr Dow claims there’s a less expensive way to test how drained your brain is -- with this free quiz from his upcoming book

If the quiz tells you that your brain is rather drained (you're NOT alone), there IS good news!

Dow says you can help manage anxiety with the foods you eat (and the foods you avoid)!

EAT THIS: Foods Rich in Amino Acids, Vitamins and Minerals


"You want more GABA and you want more serotonin," he explains. "Those are two chemicals -- neurotransmitters -- that are going to help you feel at ease."

Uhm, we don’t know about you, but we want whatever food is going to make that happen! 

The answer, according to the doctor? 

Foods rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Here are some great examples:

- Spinach
- Carrots
- Broccoli
- Pumpkin seeds
- Quinoa
- Chickpeas
- EVOO (Rach’s favorite!) 

And what’s even better than eating those goodies on their own? Eating them together in a salad, says Dr. Mike! 

"Voila, you balance your brain in the kitchen," he says of the jam-packed salad he makes in the video above. 

Watch to learn more about why these specific foods do the trick. 

AVOID THIS: Sugar-Spiking Foods


Dr. Dow says spiking your blood sugar -- with things like doughnuts and French fries -- can, over time, shrink a part of the brain called the hippocampus.

"Spiking your blood sugar, with things like doughnuts and French fries shrinks [a part] of the brain [called] the hippocampus," says Dr. Mike.

"Now," he continues, "the hippocampus is essential, because it could help you remain resilient in the face of long-term stress."

So, doughnuts for breakfast and fries for lunch isn’t the best idea? Noted. 

HAVE THIS IN MODERATION: Caffeine


"If you have one or two cups of coffee," he explains, "that is going to balance your brain."

GREAT. (The doc himself loves coffee.)

"But when you start having 3, 4, 5," he goes on, "what that does is that throws off that 24-hour natural rhythm [of melatonin]."

In other words, melatonin in the brain should spike at night (when it’s time to go to sleep) and dip in the morning -- so having too much coffee can mess with that cycle.