Nancy Dell: Foods to help with anxiety; Easing osteoarthritis pain

1. Do any food help with anxiety?
Mike, Holyoke

There are a few studies from places like Oxford and UCLA that show eating foods high in probiotics can help curb social anxiety. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in foods like yogurt, miso, pickles and sauerkraut.

In the most recent study of 700 people, the people who found the most benefit were those with the highest levels of anxiety, worry, envy or guilt. The researchers say the probiotics produce more of a neurotransmitter called GABA that has the same effect as anti-anxiety medications. The experts recommend you eat at least 1 probiotic food a day.

Not all pickles and fermented vegetables are created equal, however. You must buy fermented pickles and sauerkraut that is sold cold. If it has been heated and put on the shelf, the probiotics have been killed off.

Other probiotic foods include kefir, Kombucha tea, fresh salsa, and other fermented vegetables like pickled beets. But again, they must have not been heated and canned or jarred after fermentation.

2. I have osteoarthritis. What foods can ease the pain?
Susie, Westfield

The inflammation that comes with osteoarthritis can be reduced by the food you eat. Oregon Health and Science University experts recommend drinking 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day.

Eat more turmeric and ginger. I like to put a half a teaspoon of each into a glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk along with some cinnamon. Hot or cold, it makes a delicious way to get these spices every day.

In general, eat a Mediterranean diet with more fish, olive oil, fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugar and some people do better when they avoid wheat.

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