Foods That Fight Anxiety Disorder

The quality of our physical health is very much dependent upon our lifestyle and diet. The same goes for our mental health. Psychotherapists and doctors have begun developing diet plans for their clients that are designed to improve their mental health. Everyone experiences anxiety at times. When we encounter any situation that can stimulate anxiety, it arouses physical sensations in our body, such as sweating, increased heart rate, increased muscle tension, rapid breathing, tingling sensations or nausea.

Also Read: Early Warning Signs of Teenage Mental Health

Early Warning Signs of Teenage Mental Health
Early Warning Signs of Teenage Mental Health

These situations are surprisingly common; they can occur when one is faced with having to speak in front of a crowd, or before they have to take a test or when they face a lot of work at the office. Anxious people usually find themselves in a state of fight-or-flight. This type of anxiety can interfere with a person’s normal behavior and negatively affect the task for which he is anxious.

Anxiety Disorder

What we choose to eat can dramatically affect our level of anxiety, either positively, by preventing it, or negatively, by dramatically increasing it. Healthy whole grain foods like cereals, rice, pasta and bread, for example, are rich in magnesium, and since a magnesium deficiency is a known cause of anxiety, there are excellent for anxiety prevention. Calcium is also an important ingredient for preventing anxiety, so dairy products are also good anti-anxiety foods.

Other important nutrients you should include in your diet are B vitamins. The foods you can eat to increase your intake of B vitamins can include fish, eggs, wheat, yogurt, cheese and nuts, as well as meats like chicken, beef, turkey and pork. B vitamins are also common nutrients in fresh vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, green peas, spinach, bananas, chili pepper, beans and broccoli. Acai berries and blueberries are also beneficial, because of the antioxidants they contain, which can relieve the stress caused by anxiety.

An iron deficiency is a known cause of brain fatigue, which can lead to considerable anxiety, so eating foods rich in iron is a good idea. Almonds, for example, have iron and zinc, and they contribute to a balanced mood.

Chocolate reduces the level of cortisol, which is a hormone that causes anxiety symptoms. Therefore, eating chocolate can both be tasty and healthy, although dark chocolate without added sugar is more effective.

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as fruits, egg whites, potatoes, nuts and bread can increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which can calm the mood. If you can’t eat the right foods, take nutritional supplements for the nutrients essential to maintaining a calm demeanor.

In addition to eating the right foods, also make sure you drink plenty of water, because dehydration also causes anxiety. The best beverages to drink, besides water, are vegetable juices and herbal teas. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as they dehydrate you, and they disturb sleep. Avoid sugary drinks, which can trigger mood swings. Avoid too much caffeine, although a small amount of caffeine actually improves mood. Avoid over-refined products as white rice or white flour, because the refining process takes out most of the nutrients. Also, try to avoid fried and over–processed food. Avoid smoking because nicotine shrinks our blood vessels, and makes our heart work harder.

Also Read: The Hidden Dangers of Carbonated Beverages

You should always evaluate how you eat. Anxiety can cause a person to eat more than they need. Anxious or stressed person often eat until she feels stuffed, even if she is not hungry, which can lead to exhaustion. Our brain demands three healthy meals per day to function properly, but an anxious person sometimes skips meals, risking her health.  Snacks between meals can be beneficial if you can stick to the rules above.

It is not difficult to eat properly to avoid anxiety, and it doesn’t always require major changes in our diet. It’s just about choosing the right foods to eat, and saying “no” to unhealthy foods. Eating right is not the only answer to anxiety, and if you suffer from severe anxiety, don’t rely solely on natural remedies like these. In those situations, seek psychotherapy and medication as prescribed by your doctor. But if you are feeling anxious or stressed, start with your diet.

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About Anna Kaminsky

Anna is a blogger, a mother of two boys, and an aspiring child psychologist. She is doing PhD in Psychology at the University of Toronto and works as an intern at the Richmond Hill Psychology Center helping with psycho-educational assessments and play therapy. You can follow Anna on Twitter at @AnnaKaminsky1.

Comments

  1. Shawn says

    Nice! Looking at the picture… so if I eat a lot of cheese I wouldn’t get anxious. True! I am getting anxious when there is a last slice of cheese in my fridge :-)

  2. says

    This article should be taken with a grain of salt. Many people believe that diet could fix any mental health problems, ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety… It may help but it is absurd to believe that diet alone can magically heal your disease. You need to see a mental health professional, do assessment of your condition and therapy. In many cases of anxiety you should also take medications. See this link for in-depth review of anti-anxiety medications: http://www.dreampositive.info/anti-anxiety-medication-list/

  3. Alicia says

    What do you think about fish oil or Omega 3 supplements against anxiety? I was taking them for 2 years, but recently read that they can cause cancer, so I am not sure whether to continue… what do you think?

  4. says

    Hi Alicia,
    I think you are talking about the research study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in June 2013… correct? If I recall correctly, the study found the link between Omega 3 fatty acids and PROSTATE cancer, so it’s less relevant for women. Besides, there is a lot of criticism regarding this study, many prominent researchers claim that the study was inconsistent and wasn’t properly conducted.
    Omega 3 fatty acids are actually recommended by American Psychiatric Association and National Institute of Health as effective against depression and anxiety.
    Yet, it is better to be on the safe side, so I would suggest using supplements with high EPA to DHA Ratio (higher than 4) and don’t go over 2g per day. One thing to remember: you should always supplement fish oil with antioxidant such as Vitamin E – if you don’t, oxidation can cause cancer.

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