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.
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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.
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.
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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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