What to Eat and What to Avoid if You are Stressed or Anxious
Anxiety is a symptom or sign of stress. And, it doesn’t need some disaster or catastrophe to cause it, but common struggles and hassles you face every day. It can be hearing a baby’s cries, listening to your phone ringing all the time, or worrying about your bills.
All of this causes stress that could gradually lead to anxiety. If you are anxious for weeks, you have chronic anxiety, which can cause a wide range of health problems.
So, you may not be able to avoid these stressful situations, but you can still do something to calm your body.
Apparently, the food you consume can affect this condition. Some foods and drinks help calm the body and relieve anxiety thanks to their brain-boosting properties, while others act as stimulants. So, it’s up to you to make the right choice!
Even though your diet won’t cure your anxiety, as explained by Mayo Clinic, it will help lower the severity of symptoms.
Here are the best and worst food choices for anxiety.
Best Foods to Help Reduce Anxiety
The omega-3s EPA and DHA and vitamin D in salmon help promote brain health. The two omega-3 fatty acids help regulate serotonin and dopamine – neurotransmitters that help relax and calm.
Consuming them in proper amounts can improve your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, according to a study. This is important as you’ll be able to handle stressors, thus avoiding triggering anxiety symptoms.
Studies show vitamin D can increase the levels of calming neurotransmitters. One research showed that consuming Atlantic salmon 3 times a week for 5 months is more effective in reducing anxiety symptoms than consuming beef, pork, or chicken.
The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, helps prevent anxiety disorders and promote brain health, as proven by many studies. It helps the body synthesize the omega-3 DHA more efficiently, thus boosting its levels in the brain.
One mice study showed that curcumin successfully reduces anxiety. It also prevents brain cell damage thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
This herb is rich in antioxidants which can reduce inflammation. This, in turn, lowers the risk of anxiety. The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology published a study that shows chamomile extract helps reduce the symptoms of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).
Even though more research is needed to prove these findings, the results are promising.
4. Dark Chocolate
The antioxidants in dark chocolate – flavonols, can boost brain function by improving the blood flow to the brain and its ability to adapt to stressful events, a study says.
According to some researchers, the brain-boosting properties of dark chocolate are thanks to its delicious taste which is comforting for people with mood disorders.
One study showed that eating 74% dark chocolate two times a day for 14 days can reduce the levels of stress hormones cortisol and catecholamine, which are linked to anxiety.
Consuming this delicious food can increase the levels of the happy hormone – serotonin. This, in turn, helps reduce the risk of anxiety. The best serving size for dark chocolate is 1-1.5 ounces.
5. Green Tea
The amino acid L-theanine found in green tea can help improve brain function and reduce the symptoms of anxiety, according to a 2012 study.
One research showed that L-theanine helps to reduce psychological stress responses, like an increased heart rate, linked to anxiety. That’s because the amino acid doesn’t allow the nerves to become overexcited.
Also, green tea contains the antioxidant EGCG which promotes brain health. One mouse brain research shows that it has anti-anxiety effects similar to those of standard anxiety meds.
Foods to Avoid if You Have Anxiety
According to WebMD, caffeine can make you nervous and jittery, and disrupt your sleep. It’s certainly not the best choice if you’re dealing with anxiety or depression.
Alcohol can mess up your sleep, so you won’t get the necessary rest. As a result, you can feel anxious and even depressed if this happens regularly. Moderation is the key, but if you have chronic anxiety, we recommend avoiding it for a while.
According to Calm Clinic, sugar worsens the symptoms of anxiety and could trigger panic attacks. So, even though it does not cause anxiety, it does worsen its symptoms.
It can cause blurry vision, fatigue, general ill feeling, and trouble thinking – symptoms of a panic attack.
4. Processed Foods
WebMD says that consuming lots of processed meat, refined cereals, fried food, pastries, candy, and high-fat dairy products increases the risk of anxiety and depression.
5. Fruit Juice
Whole fruits contain fiber which can fill you up and slow down the way blood takes in energy. If you exclude that fiber, you’ll drink only nutritious sugar water which can boost your energy in an instant and reduce it just as fast.
And, you’ll be left “hangry” – hungry and angry, which won’t help your anxiety at all. So, if you are thirsty, drink water. Otherwise, enjoy your fruit whole, recommends WebMD.
Making these changes in your diet can make you feel calm and relaxed, and your anxiety symptoms less severe.