Living with anxiety is no walk in the park. There are certain foods that are actually increasing your anxiety.
You take steps to avoid triggers and reduce stress, but sometimes the culprit might be hiding in the foods you eat. Common foods and substances can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Modifying your diet to avoid these foods can help reduce your anxiety.
Food and Anxiety: What’s the Connection?
You already know that food can make you feel good or bad. You may keep a stash of feel-good chocolates in your desk to get through a stressful day or there may be that one thing that just makes you feel icky afterwards. But how can eating something affect your anxiety?
This study determined that the balance of bacteria in your body can be thrown off by the presence of stress-inducing foods and additives leading to heightened flight-or-fight response. In other cases foods, may have a harsh effect on our bodies, giving rise to the symptoms of a panic attack.
While it may seem like anxiety-inducing foods are now another thing to worry about, the good news is there are plenty of better foods that can help reduce the panic response. If you’ve ever had a cup of chamomile tea, then you know how the right foods can calm the mood.
The following five foods and substances are the usual suspects that amp up the body’s anxiety response. Use this knowledge to reach for the good stuff if you feel the stress rising. Then, adjust your diet for an ultimate stress reduction.
5 Foods You Probably Didn’t Know Are Increasing Your Anxiety
It may seem like a better health choice to choose the whole-grain loaf of bread over the boring old white. However, whole grains may be what is wreaking havoc with your anxiety levels if you seem to be overly stressed.
Grains such as quinoa, rice, bran, wheat, rye, and oats are all touted for their high fiber content and abundance of nutrients.
But they also contain something called phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that blocks the body’s absorption of zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium leading to increased anxiety. Properly preparing grains by soaking, sprouting or souring may reduce this effect.
Still, many say they feel much better emotionally when they don’t consume grains.
You’re probably not surprised to see that sugar has made this list. While having a sweet tooth every now and again may help you have stress less, foods that contain refined sugar can make you feel jittery and nervous. Refined sugars are not at all nice to the body.
While you may get a quick burst of energy after eating a tasty treat, there is the eventual crash when your blood sugar level drops. Constant blood sugar spikes and crashes lead to the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, both of which can lead to anxiety and panic.
Some people need that morning cup of coffee to even get going in the morning. For others it could make then feel like a building panic attack. Energy drinks, sodas, tea, or any other caffeinated beverage might wake you up, but they also take a physical effect on the body that closely mimics the symptoms of a panic attack.
Caffeine causes the heart rate to rise, trembling, and other responses that you may recognize as panic. In moderation, one cup of joe a day may be helpful, but if you have trouble sleeping or experience these symptoms, it may be time to cut back.
You should know that alcohol is a depressant, so reaching for a glass of wine or bottle of beer after a long day may only make matters worse. Too much alcohol can cause a whole other list of problems that give rise to anxiety.
Drinking alcohol leads to dehydration, throws off the balance of your gut (especially if it’s made with certain grains), interferes with the body’s use of serotonin–the feel-good hormone, and messes up with your blood sugar levels. It’s no wonder the body goes into panic mode when you drink alcohol!
5. Certain Food Intolerances
It only makes sense that if you don’t respond well to certain foods or substances to avoid them. If you know you already have a bad response to some foods, don’t eat them! If you’re not sure, then doing an elimination diet may be a way to find out.
The major culprits to cut out first are corn, eggs, gluten, dairy, and soy. Start your test by slowly adding one of these back into your diet at a time and evaluating your anxiety. Ask a dietitian or nutritionist if you’re still having trouble with anxiety after trying an elimination diet.
A Diet for Reduced Anxiety (Avoid Increasing Your Anxiety)
Fortunately, simple but healthy diet changes can help you reduce the occurrence of panic and anxiety and lead to increased health. Drinking plenty of water keeps your body hydrated and staves off feelings of anger, irritability, and tension.
Getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps your body absorb the nutrition it needs and combats vitamin deficiencies that lead to anxiety symptoms. Reaching for foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, or magnesium can also help reduce anxiety.
To aid in reducing anxiety, many people also follow a Paleo diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), or Food Intolerance diet (where they eliminate the top offending food intolerances).