ua en ru

Nutritional strategies to avoid stress: Insights from dietitian

Nutritional strategies to avoid stress: Insights from dietitian Nutritional strategies for managing anxiety and depression (photo: Freepik)

Due to the demands of modern life, many people experience constant stress, which can have a negative impact on their physical well-being. Certain foods can help preserve the nervous system and support overall health, according to Ukrainian dietitian Oleg Shvets, who discusses what to eat to improve mental health.

What scientific studies show?

Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine (USA) found in a study on mice that the bacterium Lactobacillus helps the body cope with stress and prevents mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

"This bacterium leads to the disappearance of depression in mice. To understand why this happens, scientists used a collection of bacteria known as Altered Schaedler Flora, which included two strains of Lactobacillus and six other bacterial strains. They found that transferring gut bacteria from stressed mice to others leads to depression and anxious behavior in the latter," says Shvets.

Mice without lactobacilli had an increased stress response. This study's results once again confirm the role of the gut microbiome and immune system in mood disorders.

"They are promising for developing new methods of treating and preventing mental disorders. Perhaps in the future, people at risk of depression will take probiotic products and dietary supplements containing lactobacilli," says the doctor.

How yogurt affects the nervous system

Lactobacilli, typically found in fermented products like yogurt, are associated with stress management and potential prevention of depression and anxiety.

"The microbiota influences signal transmission in the brain, so changes in the microbiota change brain stimulation. This is an important effect that tells us that we really are what we eat," adds the dietitian.

Lactobacilli, abundant in the gut, modulate this communication by affecting the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which play a key role in mood regulation. Additionally, lactobacilli reduce gut inflammation, which can indirectly contribute to improved mental health.

Beneficial products for anxiety and depression

\Increase consumption of lactobacilli. The diet should include fermented products such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.

"Ideally, consume one serving of fermented food per day. An alternative is high-quality probiotic dietary supplements containing Lactobacillus strains," says Shvets.

Depressive symptoms can also be alleviated by foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids—fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

"Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, whole grains, magnesium-containing products like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are beneficial for mental health. They are part of a diverse and nutritious diet that positively influences mood and reduces stress," explains the dietitian.

Don't forget a holistic approach to mental health

The doctor emphasizes that while such nutrition is beneficial for mental health, it should be accompanied by a comprehensive approach.

"How we feel mentally is influenced by everything: from childhood trauma, including the consequences of war or social hardship, to genetics, age, lifestyle, and much more. Nutrition is just one aspect of managing mental health," says Shvets.

Regular physical activity, sufficient sleep, and other stress management methods also impact mental well-being.

Read also about which products provoke diabetes.

Earlier, we wrote about which products can protect against cancer, diabetes, and dementia.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.