Do you often feel anxious and struggle with anxiety?
Anxiety is basically an emotion, that you feel whenever you are worried about something or when something is troubling you.
Everyone feels anxious more or less at times. It is the body’s fight or flight response that is triggered when you are worried, threatened, facing unavoidable circumstances troubling you, job interview, exams, and also during certain happy circumstances like a first date, marriage.
Anxiety is not only emotion or feeling, it can also lead to a wide range of physical symptoms. Everyone’s circumstances are different, so symptoms may range widely differently from one person to another. Some of the symptoms experienced are – Pounding heart, Stomach upset, Shortness of breath, Trembling, Insomnia, Headache, Fatigue, Irritability, and many more symptoms.
Baffling Connection Between Diet And Anxiety:
Anxiety symptoms can make you feel unwell, sad, and irritability with a bad mood. Lifestyle changes can relieve your anxiety. Though coping with it is quite challenging, but with a proper diet, one can relieve its symptoms. Diet changes don’t cure anxiety as in, but food that you eat can make a big difference.
Certain foods have antioxidants that help in reducing stress, thus relieving anxiety and depression.
Role Of Serotonin:
Serotonin is the chemical that stabilizes mood, sleep, and appetite. 95% of body receptors of serotonin are found in the gut.
Now as we know Anxiety can be treated with traditional treatment that includes Medicines, Talk therapy, Counseling, Yoga, and Meditation. Food focused solutions and diet can word as a natural factor to reduce anxiety.
Right Nutritious Food, Right Drink, Reduce Stress:
Anxiety is the most common disorder in the country. Thus, along with medication and counseling, the right diet is necessary to combat anxiety. Talk to your Counselor or Nutritionist to make a journal about your diet and anxiety symptoms.
Foods To Fight Anxiety:
- Omega-3 fatty acids rich food
- Zinc-rich food
- Magnesium-rich food
- Vitamin B rich food
- Vitamin C
- Dark chocolates
- Green leafy vegetables
Omega-3 fatty acids – Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts.
Magnesium – Green leafy vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains.
Zinc – Pumpkin seeds, Lentils.
Vitamin B – Beans, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, poultry.
Probiotics – Yogurt.
Vitamin C – Bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli.
Complex carbohydrates – Whole grains, millets, sweet potatoes.
Fruits and green leafy vegetables – Fresh fruits and vegetables including apples, oranges, mangoes, green veggies like spinach calm the stress and anxiety.
Turmeric (Curcuminoids) – antioxidants in turmeric enhance mood.
Dark chocolates – It has high flavonoid content, the antioxidant that stimulates blood flow to the brain, which improves mood.
Blueberries – It is the ‘superfood’ rich in vitamins and plant nutrients with a variety of antioxidants that relieve stress.
Water – It keeps you hydrated and improves the overall functions of your body and relieves stress.
Also Read: 10 Superfoods You Should Eat Every Day
Foods To Avoid In Anxiety:
When anxious, you can make the wrong food choices and indulge yourself in binge eating which aggravated stress and anxiety. Rather than binge eating food that can aggravate anxiety, one should indulge in food that calms down anxiety.
- Trans fat
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fried food and Fast food
Caffeine – Coffee, tea, black tea aggravated depression, and anxiety. Caffeine disrupts sleep. Sleep is connected to mood. Disrupted sleep can seriously mess with mental health. Thus, it should be avoided to calm stress.
Alcohol – Alcohol disrupts with working of the central nervous system. The nervous system controls our emotions too. Boozing affects concentration level, low attentiveness, and loses control over the processing of emotions too. Thus, aggravating stress and anxiety.
Sugar – Increase in added sugar in diet linked with increased depression. Spike in blood sugar level increases the risk of diabetes as well as anxiety. Sugar affects the brain working thus greater risk of diabetes and stress.
Trans fat – Trans fat is found in various packaged food items and oil used to fry fast food. Transfat can clog arteries and increase the risk of heart problems, stress, and anxiety.
Salt – Experts say extra or over sodium-rich food disrupts the neurological system of the body. Thus, reducing immunity, fatigue, and many other associated heart problems too. It can also lead to fluid retention. It also leads to an increase in weight and a negative outlook for body image, and thus, anxiety.
Artificial sweeteners – Ice creams, soft drinks, and other soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners in the form of aspartame which is a dangerous ingredient that blocks the neurotransmitter serotonin. Yes, you can amaze yourself some time by satisfying your sweet tooth cravings but ultimately it has a really bad effect on the body.
Fried food and Fast food – Easily available, approachable, low cost, more satisfaction to food cravings!! But is it beneficial? A big NO. People who are too much involved in such a diet are more at risk of developing anxiety and depression. Moderate or occasional eating is not a bad idea but making it a part of diet daily can reduce happy feelings and increase unhappy, bad mood.
Can Proper Nutrition Reduce Anxiety?
Although the food itself does not reduce anxiety as such, during the anxious or depressed state of mind and body, the total antioxidant state gets lowered. At this point, a correlation exists between a nutritious diet and anxiety.
Food rich in antioxidants helps in easing symptoms of anxiety. Along with other factors diet itself plays a major role in anxiety.
Consumption of spicy, processed acidic food is positively associated with increasing anxiety symptoms while alkaline, homemade, fresh fruits and vegetables are inversely proportional to stress and anxiety.
Also Read: 7 Best Foods To Improve Knee Health
Following Dietary Guidelines:
No dairy, less sugar, no caffeine, no trans fat, more medium amount of protein intake, and most importantly more fruits and vegetables with at least 1 – 2 liters of water.
For a day or two, sticking to this diet is difficult and not at all interesting. But within a few days, you will start noticing a change in your energy level which will make you feel mentally and emotionally strong, a fair way to reduce the bouts of anxiety attacks.
Final Note (A Holistic Approach):
Caring for anxiety needs a holistic approach. Relying yourself more on medications is itself not a good idea. The approach should be to relieve the symptoms with talk therapy, counseling, indulging in yoga, exercise, medication, talking to loved ones during any kind of stress, anxiety, and obviously by choosing the right food for yourself.
Stress, anxiety cannot be completely eliminated for life it should be accepted as part of life. The ultimate guide is to have a well-nourished body and mind that supports the ability to handle the triggers that set off anxiety without harming the body, mind, and soul.
Dwell on positive thoughts more along with the above approaches and see the change in your stressful life and anxious thoughts.
About The Author:
Dr. Jyotsana Anand – A Dental Surgeon by profession and an avid reader and passionate writer from passion who wrote articles on various niches including Medical, Dental, Health and Wellness, Food and Nutrition.