5 Nutrition Tips To Help Reduce Anxiety

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Eat Calm and Carry On

written by dr. uma naidoo, nutritional psychiatrist

Here are some of my favorite foods and essential nutrients to make 2024 a year of balance!

The title says it all – as we move into the New Year, I’m all about ways to help us achieve a state of peace both inside and out. As a Nutritional Psychiatrist, I’m passionate about leveraging the power of food to reduce symptoms of anxiety, and keep me calm, cool and collected for all the things we have in store for the coming year. 

After the pandemic, anxiety disorders grew from about 298 million people affected to 374 million, which is about a 25% increase. Prior to the pandemic, the American Psychological Association had reported that more than three-quarters of adults report symptoms of stress.

Research has shown that more than 70% of people globally with mental illness receive no treatment from healthcare staff. All this points to us needing more solutions for the most common mental health condition. Whether you have a formal diagnosis or whether you feel off your game since COVID, anxiety seems to be everywhere these days.

These are the key foods to include in your diet in 2024 to promote a sense of calm, focus, and clarity.

Prebiotic Fiber

Veggies are rich in prebiotic fibers that feed and help maintain an abundance of healthy bacteria in the gut which is associated with reduced neuroinflammation and stress.

Prebiotic foods include asparagus, garlic, onions, leafy greens, artichokes, legumes, mushrooms, and apples, amongst others. I recommend including a variety of these veggies in the diet to ensure a diversity of brain boosting vitamins and minerals along with fiber.


Loaded with fiber, antioxidants and vitamins, berries support a healthy gut microbiome and can reduce inflammation.

Blueberries specifically contain one of the highest concentrations of anxiety-reducing anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that supports brain health by fighting off oxidative stress. Wild blueberries even have twice the antioxidant power of regular blueberries!

However, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are all great fruits to reach for when feeling anxious. I love having a quarter cup of blueberries daily as part of a brain-healthy breakfast!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are an incredibly powerful tool in reducing inflammation in the gut and brain. They can be found abundantly in wild caught fish like salmon, anchovies, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in nuts and seeds like walnuts, flax, and chia seeds.

Omega-3 consumption is associated with reduced anxiety, brain fog and cognitive decline, as well as improved mood. 


Spices like turmeric with a pinch of black pepper, cinnamon, saffron, rosemary, and ginger not only boost the flavor and color of our meals, but are also rich in antioxidants, micronutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds for improved mental fitness.

Enjoying my turmeric latte each morning is one of my go-to practices for reduced stress and good energy throughout the day!

Fermented Foods

A healthy gut microbiome is dependent on a healthy presence of good bacteria in the gut and an effective way to replenish these populations of good bacteria is through eating fermented foods!

Naturally rich in live cultures, foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, and plain yogurts are excellent for mental fitness. Consuming fermented foods in conjunction with the above-mentioned fiber-rich veggies is key for maintaining a healthy microbiome and defending against chronic inflammation.

Hungry For More?

Dr. Uma Naidoo is a Harvard trained Nutritional Psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutritional biologist, and author of the bestselling This is Your Brain on Food. Her new book, Calm Your Mind with Food, is available for pre-order now.

You can find me online at www.umanaidoomd.com, and connect with me on Instagram and Twitter, @DrUmaNaidoo, for real-time updates and news in Nutritional Psychiatry.

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