“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates
Anxiety can be difficult to cope with. People often find themselves searching for a release from the circling thoughts that feel overwhelming. While medications can be helpful to some people, there are other things that people can do to help decrease their anxiety. And one of those is eating! Cheers!
Foods to Eat More Of
This calming tea has been shown to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms within just a few weeks! Maybe swap your morning coffee (if you can!) out with chamomile tea.
Chicken and Turkey
Getting sleepy after enjoying a big turkey meal at Thanksgiving isn’t a coincidence! Protein-source tryptophan has been shown to decrease anxiety in people with social phobias within just one week! Turkey and chicken both provide between 108-110% of the recommended DV of tryptophan.
Spinach, Quinoa, and Almonds
Low levels of magnesium showed a substantial increase in anxiety for mice. So, making sure to get enough magnesium would mean a decrease in anxiety if you’re currently deficient. Getting plenty of green leafy vegetables such as spinach would increase your intake of magnesium naturally! Quinoa and almonds are other great sources of magnesium.
Adding certain foods to our diets can be a fun adventure. Here is a list of foods that you might already be consuming that will cause an increase in your anxiety!
Foods to Avoid:
Caffeine is found in coffee, soda, chocolate, and many teas. It is a mood altering drug that many people find helps them feel confident, alert, focused and productive. However, for people that are sensitive to the drug, caffeine causes anxiety-like symptoms that can increase your stress. Both while consuming caffeine and when detoxing!
Caffeine increases the blood levels of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It increases heart rate, can cause insomnia, increases blood pressure, affects the brain’s neurotransmitter balance, causes irritability, and sometimes may cause panic attacks. Caffeine’s effects are often interpreted by the brain to be anxiety, triggering an increase in stress.
Artificial and Refined Sugar
Sugar seems nearly impossible to avoid in today’s modern diet. Natural sugars, such as those found in fruits and honey, are more easily digested by the body than the refined sugars. Refined sugars are found in sodas, candies and sweets, juices, breads, pastas, and pastries. Sugar does not cause anxiety. But your body’s reactions to sugar can trigger anxiety.
The person with anxiety is hyper-sensitive to the feelings in their body, on the look-out for the next anxiety episode. So they notice changes in the body that other people might not notice. Like when sugar causes feelings of fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating, shaking or tension, or general sick feeling. These reactions to an overload of sugar can trigger anxiety.
Processed and Fried Foods
Food has been processed if:
- You cannot find seeds within it
- Can’t tell where it was attached to the plant that grew it
- If it is fried
- Or you can’t tell what animal produced it by just looking at it
Processed and fried foods are more difficult for our bodies to digest and do not provide the nutrients needed to properly fuel our bodies. In fact, far from providing the nutrients our bodies need, they instead contain toxins that harm our bodies. These foods cause many chronic diseases over time, but the body feels the effects long before a chronic disease diagnosis is given. So when the body begins feeling sick or malnourished from these foods, it triggers anxiety because the body can tell that something is wrong.
Alcohol changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. While alcohol initially causes a sense of calm that many with anxiety find helpful, drinking can result in long-term dependence on alcohol to be able to feel calm. Drinking excessively can also induce anxiety, even panic attacks, due to the toxins that affect the mind and body.
Food sensitivities differ from person to person. Some people are gluten or lactose intolerant, others can’t eat nuts or shellfish, and still others experience discomfort from eating pork. Whatever food sensitivity you may have, consuming that food can lead to an increase in anxiety due to the body’s reactions to the food. Anytime food causes discomfort in any way, anxiety is triggered. Avoiding these foods will help to lessen symptoms of anxiety related to food intake.
These were just a few places to start adding food into your diet, or taking some out! If you’re curious about any deficiencies or over-indulgences that are specific to you, check with your doctor about these common physiological causes of depression and anxiety. Share this post with your friends and family that seem a little anxious – changing their diet could be the breakthrough they’ve been looking for!