Food Items to Include & Not Include If You are Suffering from Anxiety

In this fast-paced world, we are frequently exposed to stressful situations which have a debilitating effect on our mental health. Neuro-psychiatric illnesses are increasingly affecting large masses of population, which hence is a cause for concern. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a non-profit organization that strives for prevention and awareness of a list of mental illnesses, released statistics relating to 2017. The findings concluded that anxiety disorders are the most common prevailing illness in the USA affecting 40 million people (18 and above) annually which is 18.1% of the entire adult population. Women are far more likely to be diagnosed with this condition. Medical Scientists have concluded that if no thorough preventive measure is taken within the next 10 years, figures can rise to a startling figure of 60 million in 2027.

A lot of reasons have been attributed to the alarming rise in the cases of anxiety disorders. From lack of exercise, abnormal sleep routine to the harmful radiations released by technological devices, there is no single cause for this illness. Yet, medical scientists believe that certain food items have the ability to enhance anxiety and chances of panic attacks.

It is important to note that, though your diet may significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety, it is, however, not a cure to it. Consulting a professional should not be overlooked and the advantages of synthetic drugs cannot be sidelined. When all of the three methods are followed according to a prescribed plan, can one improve his/her mental wellbeing.

Moreover, the benefits obtained from exercising are innumerable. Studies have been conducted for years to find a relationship between physical exercise and mental health, and there remains a strong positive link between the two. By following a daily routine of yoga or workout in the fresh air, a person induces the brain to produce endorphins which are the natural painkillers. It not only lessens the stress but improves the sleeping pattern as well.

This article will look into some of the food items that are known to be healthy and worse for people suffering from anxiety disorder.

Foods to Eat

TypeFood ItemsWhy?
Tryptophan-Rich FoodsTurkey, Tofu, SalmonTryptophan is an essential type of amino acid that is needed by the body for the nitrogen balance and inducing normal growth in infants. It is not naturally produced by the human body so the only way to replenish this chemical substance is through food items or supplements. Medical Scientists have augmented a strong relationship between mood stabilizing and tryptophan. Studies have shown that it can have a positive effect on stress by triggering the production of serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for transportation of signals between brain and nerve cells. A low amount of it can cause depression and infrequent anxiety attacks. Manuel Villacorta, spokesperson for American Diabetic Association has classified “tryptophan as a precursor to serotonin production.”
High Vitamin B ContentBeef, Pork, Poultry, Soya Beans, Whole Grain Cereal, LegumesThiamine a type of Vitamin B1 is often recommended to people suffering from anxiety since this ingredient shares a positive relationship with mood stabilization. Dr Edward Golfarb, a member of the Illinois Psychiatric Society, witnessed cases where his patients reported worsening of depression symptoms when they lacked Vitamin B (folic acid and B12 particularly) in their diet. Legumes and soya beans contain ample amount of Vitamin B thereby their consumption can be used to ward off anxiety.
Complex CarbohydratesOatmeal, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Brown RiceStudies have found that complex carbohydrates can aid in the production of serotonin. Compared with processed carbohydrates which have a high sugar content like sweets and candies, complex ones apart from being relatively less in calories can lift up depressive mood phases.

Most of the comparison of complex carbohydrates is drawn with processed carbohydrates. While the latter injects a sudden burst of energy, the blood sugar level may drop afterwards due to the production of insulin. As a result, the person feels sluggish and inactive. On the other hand complex carbs slowly release energy to the body thereby nullifying the sluggishness effect experienced with its counterpart.

Omega 3-Rich FoodsSeafood, Nuts and Seeds, Fish Oil, AnchoviesIf you are looking for a quick way to enhance your mood, then food items rich in Omega 3-fatty acids may be the right option. Apart from the fact that this chemical substance can help fight complications associated with cardiovascular disease, there have been known instances for improvement in mental health. If taken along with the prescribed anti-depressants, patients can find their symptoms of the illness to be considerably lessened.


Foods That Make Anxiety Worse

TypeFood ItemsWhy?
High Sodium FoodsCanned Entrees, Salted Beans and Nuts, BurritosHigh sodium foods are all those items which have a high salt content. On the other hand, canned entrees such as Rivoli and chili also share an inverse relationship with enhanced mood. A case in point are the fat-free products which have mini mountains of sodium that can adversely affect the operations of the neurological system. Apart from being a major contributor towards depression, sodium is also known to cause fatigue, bloating and increases the risk of high blood pressure
Alcohol and Soft DrinksAny type of liquor and sugary carbonated drinksMany of us consume alcohol or soft drinks at parties or for recreational purpose. What we are not aware of is the fact that excessive consumption can greatly enhance the chances of a panic attack and the symptoms of anxiety disorder. The toxins contained in these beverages alter the level of serotonin in the body and can disrupt the nervous system. On a comparison with soft drinks, alcohol can also alter other bodily processes. It can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and lead to hypersensitivity.

Although, a lot of people believe that a viable substitute for soft drinks is the sugar-free beverages that contain aspartame as an alternative to sugar.  Aspartame is not as healthy as it is presumed to be. Medical Scientists believe that the reason for infrequent mood swings can be attributed to this chemical substance. On a longer-term basis, it can lead to insomnia, headaches, cancer and blindness.

Rich in CholesterolFried Food, Butter, Ghee, Full Fat Cheese, French FriesThe consequences of consuming fried food in excess greatly outweigh the advantages obtained. Nutritionists categorize these items as the least healthy food group since they greatly make the person vulnerable to several medical illnesses including heart disease and stroke. Unhealthy cooking processing of fried food can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In an article published in Public Health Journal, it was found that people who consumed fast food twice every week increased their chances of depression by 51%. Thereby, only a small portion should be included in the diet and frequent consumption should be avoided.


Substance Abuse

So far, our discussion has centred around food items that can either be healthy or worse for people suffering from anxiety. However, there is one other side attached to it as well.

Many people, particularly the young age group would resort to substance abuse as a way of overcoming the daily life stress. Although the relaxing effect may be short-lived, the post-usage consequence happens to greatly amplify the risk of anxiety and panic attack. Chemical substances present in cocaine, marijuana and hallucinogens are known to disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. Increased usage of these substances can impact the mental-well being of the person causing nervousness, insomnia, memory loss and enhance suicidal tendencies.






Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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