Anxiety and anxiety-related conditions are the most common psychological afflictions of humans and account for a major percentage of initial complaints to psychiatrists as well as to general practitioners.
It is estimated that some 33% of women and 22% of men in the population may suffer from acute or chronic anxiety, with women outnumbering men.
As a symptom, anxiety is a final common pathway for many conditions, physical as well as psychological. As syndromes, anxiety disorders are under intensive study to define more precisely their etiologies and clinical outcomes.
Recent studies, showing disturbances of lactate metabolism in certain anxious individuals, point to the possibility that some anxiety states, like some depressive states, have strong biological and genetic determinants.
An Anti-Anxiety Diet?
Anxiety is not necessarily caused by what you eat. But that doesn’t mean that millions of people aren’t contributing to their anxiety every day by eating foods that create anxiety symptoms while avoiding foods that may fight anxiety.
The truth is that your diet does matter. What you eat affects how you feel, and how you feel is anxious. It stands to reason that changing your diet to one that is made for those living with anxiety can be a valuable part of treating your anxiety symptoms.
How to Create an Anti-Anxiety Diet
“Eating healthier” is a phrase that’s thrown around a lot, but in the case of anxiety, healthy eating really does make a difference. Eating more vegetables and staying away from unhealthy burgers, really will keep your anxiety in check.
It starts by avoiding foods that may contribute to your anxiety symptoms. If you really want to create a diet for anxiety, remove or moderate all of the following:
Fried Foods – Fried foods are difficult to digest, have little nutritional content, and contribute to heart struggles. It’s very difficult to reduce your anxiety if your body is poorly processing the food you consume.
Alcohol – Set aside the fact that drinking alcohol can cause you to do crazy things that create more anxiety in your life. Alcohol itself is terrible for your body. It dehydrates you. It throws off your hormone and nutritional balance, and it can cause physical symptoms from the toxins that trigger anxiety attacks.
Coffee – Excess coffee is a known anxiety stimulant. In moderation (ie, once a day in the morning), coffee may not trigger anxiety in most people, but the more you drink, the more you increase your risk. Coffee also creates a rapid heartbeat and some sensations that may create panic attacks.
Dairy Products – Dairy products aren’t inherently bad for you, but in excess they may heighten your adrenaline levels and contribute to a more anxious state. Moderation is the key here, and if you find after consuming dairy products you feel more anxious, cut back.
Refined Sugars – Sugar in fruit isn’t too bad. White sugar in desserts is. Sugar, like caffeine, stimulates your body in a way that can create a jitteriness that exacerbates anxiety symptoms.
Acid Forming Foods – Foods like yogurt, pickles, eggs, sour cream, wine, and liver are all acid creating foods, and there are reasons to believe that these foods lower magnesium levels. Magnesium is a cause or contributor to anxiety in many of those suffering from anxiety symptoms, so cutting back on acid forming foods is important.
Avoiding these foods is unlikely to cure anxiety, but it will help, especially if you find that you over-consume some type of food on this list. Remember, most foods can still be eaten in moderation, but healthier eating is still a very important part of a healthy anxiety diet.
A 2010 research study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, concluded that the modern American or Western diet, leads to higher rates of depression anxiety.
…a “traditional” dietary pattern characterized by vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, and whole grains was associated with lower odds for major depression or dysthymia and for anxiety disorders. A “western” diet of processed or fried foods, refined grains, sugary products, and beer was associated with a higher GHQ-12 (depression anxiety) score.
In a December 2012 review Study in the Journal of Medicine and Life titled “Nutrition and depression at the forefront of progress”, the authors wrote that…
[Depression] is undeniably linked to nutrition, as suggested by the mounting evidence by research in neuropsychiatry. An adequate intake of good calories, healthy proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and all essential minerals is of utmost importance in maintaining good mental health. In addition, the link between fast food and depression has recently been confirmed.
Talking about your concerns can also be a great way to vent and release anxiety. Just “getting the problem out” can help you feel better. Not only does it feel great, but it can also give you new insights into what’s happening in your life.
You don’t have to confront your problems alone. There are benefits of talking to someone about how you feel.
It is my passion to listen, support and help you through these times and to help you experience positive changes.