Decrease Anxiety by Eating Fish

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There’s lots of choices available to pregnant women when they eat for two. Which cheeses to avoid, whether alcohol is safe to drink, what supplements to take, and types of fish to shy away from. With all these choices with food alone, it’s no surprise that expecting mothers experience anxiety.

Scientists from Brazil’s Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and UK’s Bristol University revealed that expecting mothers who consume seafood regularly are likely experience decreased levels of anxiety than pregnant women who don’t.

The research kept track of 9,530 expecting mothers who filled out a food survey that documented their dietary consumption throughout their pregnancy. At 32 weeks, the team measured the women’s anxiety symptoms.

The women who didn’t eat seafood were 53% more likely to experience increased anxiety levels, compared to women who ate seafood frequently.

Additionally, the research showed that expecting mothers who were vegetarians were 25% more likely to experience high anxiety than women who ate fish and meat.

Pregnancy anxiety risks

Expecting mothers are encouraged to consume different kinds of fish with low mercury content, like salmon.

The researchers said “concurring studies associate gestational anxiety with shorter pregnancies and low birth weight.” Additionally, high anxiety while pregnant is tied to negative impressions on the neurodevelopment of babies, states the authors.

According to the scientists, this research is the first of its type to establish relationships between excessive anxiety levels and nutritional patterns while pregnant. Specifically, this research is the first to link low intake of fish and n-3 PUFA to increased anxiety symptoms.

What amount and what kind of seafood is safe to eat while pregnant?

Although the conclusions serve as guidelines to consume fish during pregnancy, there are recommendations expecting mothers should consider.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that although fish and shellfish are an important part of a balanced diet, practically all of them have, at minimum, minute amounts of mercury. In large amounts, can have negative effects on a newborn’s maturing nervous system.

The FDA suggest the three following recommendations:

  • Don’t eat tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish or shark due to their high mercury content
  • Eat roughly 12 ounces (approximately 28 grams) per week of fish/shellfish that contain less mercury. Example include catfish, pollock, salmon, shrimp and canned light tuna.
  • Find out whether fish your friends and family catch locally are safe

Because one of the newer conclusions in recent studies found vegetarians were 25% more likely to develop elevated anxiety while pregnant than others who ate fish or meat, the researchers suggest implementing seafood into vegetarian meals when possible.

Researcher Pauline Emmet said “Some vegetarians occasionally consume seafood and we promote this, particularly since we’re unsure which ingredient in seafood works most.”

The researchers claim their conclusions show dietary counseling while pregnant, concentrating on heightened n-3 PUFA consumption, is a good for women experiencing high anxiety. However, they state clinical trials need to happen first to benchmark how well the program works.


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