Anxiety and Nutrition

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If you suffer from anxiety, you’ll know that it can be affected by a variety of factors, both mental and physical. As well as having a marked impact on your physical health, the mix of nutrients that you get from your diet can play a huge role within your overall wellbeing, both in terms of psychological issues and in how you feel in general, i.e. your state of mind.

Whether or not you have some underlying reason for experiencing anxiety, psychological, emotional or otherwise, the foods that you consume can increase and even cause these symptoms. Nutritional advice for dealing with anxiety therefore adopts a twofold approach: avoiding the foods that cause and exacerbate anxiety; and choosing foods that decrease it.

What to avoid

Among the foods that can cause anxiety, stimulants are one of the worst culprits. Caffeine and nicotine will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on your anxiousness, as they stimulate your body to produce adrenalin, which can in turn fuel anxiety and stress. If you’re suffering from anxiety, you should therefore look to reduce or even eliminate your intake of such things as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks containing caffeine.

Additionally, there are a huge range of energy drinks and products that contain various different types of stimulant in alarmingly high levels, so these should probably be avoided as well. Another undesirable aspect of caffeine is that it can inhibit the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to sustain itself, leading to an unbalanced state of both physical and mental health.

Your nervous system is also dependent on getting just the right balance of salts, so it can pay to keep an eye on your salt intake, as this will have a knock on effect on both your stress and blood pressure.

Many of the added ingredients to the foods we purchase, such as preservatives and hormones, have been found to have a detrimental effect on both the nervous system and mental health, so the fewer of these you consume the better. Similarly, refined sugar and flavour enhancing ingredients such as monosodium glutamate can have a serious effect on your mental state.

It’s also possible that your anxiety is the result of a food allergy, and if you suspect that this may be the case it’s best to consult a health professional to get the advice you need to move forward.

What to include

In terms of eating to help your anxiety issues, the general advice is to create a healthy relationship with your food. Eating regular, healthy meals with plenty of fresh ingredients such as fruit and vegetables as part of a routine will stimulate your system to achieve a healthy balance of body and mind.

There are certain vitamins and minerals that can help to promote a calm mind, including magnesium, which helps to promote a healthy heart and muscular system, B complex vitamins, which help to maintain a healthy nervous system and to handle how your body deals with its energy requirements, and calcium, which can have a profound effect on many of the body’s major systems.