Can What You Eat Have an Impact on Your Anxiety?
Everyone knows that what you eat can affect your physical health, but did you know that it may also have an impact on your mental health? Anxiety is a prevalent psychological disorder affecting millions of people, and a growing body of evidence suggests a link between anxiety and diet.
The relationship between mental health and food is a complex one. Your body has specific nutritional needs, and what you feed it affects the functioning of all your organs including your brain. The brain requires nutrients such as vitamins and protein to produce the chemicals that help it function normally. Some nutrients are essential for mental health such as vitamins B and D, zinc, folic acid, and omega 3 fatty acids. A deficiency in these nutrients may exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness. Folic acid, for instance, is necessary to the production of serotonin, and low serotonin is known to be a factor in depression.
What to avoid
Besides being sure that you consume enough of the right nutrients, there are also some things you should avoid if anxiety is a problem. Some foods contain chemicals that have stimulant effects and may promote feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately, these are often the foods we reach for when we need a pick-me-up. Heavily processed foods such as biscuits, chips, and chocolates may boost our mood temporarily, but they break down rapidly in the body and leave us feeling tired. These foods usually lack healthy nutrients and rarely benefit us physically or mentally, and the crash after the high can be riddled with anxiety. To help keep your blood sugar steady and avoid the crash, stay away from simple carbs and foods that contain a lot of sugar.
Caffeine is also a common culprit. If you suffer from anxiety, the last thing you need is a powerful stimulant. Caffeine can cause your anxiety symptoms to worsen including shakiness, muscle tension, increased heart rate, and heart palpitations. Caffeine can even lead to anxiety in people who don’t otherwise experience it.
If you suffer from anxiety, try changing up your diet to see if it helps. Stick to plenty of fruits, veggies, lean meats, and whole grains for optimal mental health.