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Can Changing Your Diet Help Your Anxiety?

Many people are looking for an alternative, more natural ways of treating their anxiety and are asking themselves if what they eat could be making their anxiety worse? Or maybe they can use food as medicine to actually treat their anxiety. Although changing your diet will most likely not cure your anxiety, it may help you to manage your symptoms better and can be considered as an adjunct to other forms of treatment such as medications and therapy. Multiple studies have been done over the years to explore this relationship between our food and the symptoms of anxiety. I’ve listed some of the general findings below:

1. Eating protein as part of your breakfast will decrease sugar spikes and will help you to maintain an even mood throughout the morning.

2. Including complex carbohydrates in your diet will increase the level of serotonin in your brain. If you remember, serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters in your brain that helps you to feel calmer, happier, more focused, less anxious, and to just generally be more emotionally stable. Whole grains include foods such as whole grain bread, quinoa, or oatmeal.

3. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated can disrupt the balance of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Drinking some water to stay hydrated help with both anxiety and depression.

4. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol will initially help you to feel better as it releases some of your inhibitions, but in the long run, it will exacerbate the negative emotions of depression, anger, and anxiety as it also will disrupt your neurotransmitters.

5. Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine will work to dehydrate you which we talked about above. But it also will increase your level of arousal which will increase any anxiety or anger you are experiencing.

6. Limit sugar intake. Excessive sugar added to your diet will cause these roller coaster effects on your blood sugar levels meaning after you eat sugar, your blood sugar will rise, then over time, it crashes. When that happens, it can actually cause your anxiety to increase.

Specific Foods That Are Recommended

And now I’ll list some specific foods that have been linked in various studies with decreased anxiety:

  1. Increase foods high in Magnesium. Studies on mice show that magnesium will increase a feeling of calmness. Magnesium is found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, seeds, and whole grains.

2. Foods high in Zinc are linked to decreased symptoms of anxiety. These foods include oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks.

3. Studies looking at the effects of fatty cold water fish w/ omega 3 show a decrease in anxiety. This includes salmon, cod, herring, lake trout, and canned tuna.

4. Probiotics have been linked to decreased symptoms in social anxiety. These would be foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and Kefir.

5. A study in China linked asparagus with decreased anxiety symptoms.

6. Foods rich in Vitamin B's such as avocado and almonds have been shown to decrease anxiety.

7. Foods full of antioxidants such as beans, fruits, berries, nuts, and vegetables are associated with decreased anxiety.

Closing Thoughts

Making changes to your diet may help with your anxiety, but it won’t be a quick cure. Any changes may be subtle and will happen slowly over time. But keeping that in mind, changing your diet may help you to manage your symptoms of anxiety in addition to other traditional treatments such as medications and therapy. Eating healthier can only help you to feel calmer and happier.

If you want to talk with me more on this topic, or about your anxiety, please follow the link. I would love to meet and talk with you!



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