How Diet Affects Anxiety

Diet, stress, and mood are all intertwined, so it’s important to consider what you’re putting in your body, not only for your physical health but also for your emotional well being.
It is not necessary to go to extremes in changing your diet. By simply being more mindful of what you’re putting in your body, you can find small ways to improve, and that can add up to big changes.

The troublemakers:

Caffeine
– You’ll find this stimulant in coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, energy drinks, and some over-the counter medications. The temporary boost it provides can end in fatigue, headache, and tension.
Caffeine has also been identified as a potential trigger for anxiety attacks and a contributor to other health issues such as insomnia, heartburn, aggression, irritability, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure.

Salt – Sodium is present in many processed foods, so check labels and look for low-sodium or salt-free alternatives. Also be aware of how much salt you use while cooking. Sodium consumption affects fluid retention, weight, and blood pressure, all of which, in turn, can affect your mood.

Sugar – Excessive intake of simple sugars (such as white or brown sugar and honey) can cause health problems such as diabetes and hypoglycemia, the latter of which is often accompanied by symptoms similar to those experienced during a panic attack. Also, the temporary uplifting affects come with some other serious downsides, including an increased risk of depression in those who have a sugar-heavy diet.

Preservatives and hormones – These substances are present in processed foods and many types of meats. Our bodies were not built to handle these additives, and their possible side effects have been heavily debated. Swapping in some whole, unprocessed, organic foods can help reduce consumption of these potentially harmful substances.

Nicotine and alcohol – Introducing these substances into your system can cause a range of problems, not the least of which is aggravating anxiety. Nicotine is a stimulant, like caffeine, and alcohol a depressant. The addictive properties of both nicotine and alcohol have also been well documented.

It should also be mentioned that what you don’t put in your body can also be problematic. Nutrient deficiencies and dehydration can cause irritability, anxiety, and fatigue. So stop skipping meal and make sure you are drinking enough water.

For the next week, keep a tally of how often you consume any of the above listed items, and keep in mind that you will need to be checking labels. You might be surprised by what you find.

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