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8 Foods That Cause Anxiety

8 Foods That Cause Anxiety

Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. If you suffer from anxiety, you probably spend a great deal of your day trying to manage your anxiety using stress relief techniques, daily stretches and exercises, and taking one or more anti-anxiety medications.

But did you know that the foods that you put in your body can also impact your mood? Most people reach for comfort foods when they are stressed, anxious, or depressed. These comfort foods decrease anxiety and improve the production of vital neurotransmitters and hormones that help regulate your mood.

Most anxiety sufferers do not realize that there are also certain food items that can cause anxiety or worsen anxiety levels. These foods can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate mood. Removing these foods from your diet can help improve your mood and allow your brain to produce the necessary neurotransmitters needed for a balanced mood.

Everything you put in your body, including food and drink can impact your brain’s chemistry and cause a plethora of mood issues, including anxiety. Let’s take a look at some of the food that you should avoid to improve your mood and reduce your anxiety.

1. Fruit juices – Fruit juices can provide your body with a number of necessary vitamins and minerals; however, they are also filled with sugar. Sugar can cause your glucose levels to quickly spike and then crash. In the beginning, the glucose hypes you up, making you feel on edge. Then, when your body processes the sugars found in fruit juice (which happens quickly), your energy levels and mood will plummet.
 

Consuming fruit juices can cause you to feel hungry, stressed, and angry, all of which can exacerbate your anxiety. Instead of reaching for fruit juice to provide your body with vitamins and minerals, opt for whole fruits and vegetables. Eating whole foods rather than juices slows down how fast the body processes these items and reduces the risk of anxiety.

2. Caffeine – Millions of Americans drink multiple caffeinated drinks each day and eat foods that contain caffeine. What many people do not realize is their cup of coffee, their glass of soda, their cup of tea, an energy drink, or a chocolate bar could be causing or worsening their anxiety levels.
 

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that has been shown to stimulate and trigger the fight or flight response. When this occurs, the body releases the stress hormone, cortisol, which naturally increases blood pressure and heart rate. Furthermore, cortisol can increase anxiety and restricts sleep, which can worsen your anxiety levels. 

When you consume caffeine, you can become nervous, jittery, nauseous, and lightheaded. Rather than reaching for caffeinated coffee, soda, or tea, opt for a decaf cup of joe, a decaffeinated soda, or an herbal tea.

3. Gluten – Gluten is a protein found in a variety of grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. Although most people can digest gluten, there are people who are unable to tolerate or digest gluten, which can cause several side effects. Those who suffer from gluten intolerances or celiac disease are at an increased risk of mood disorders, including anxiety. 

When you consume gluten, it can trigger inflammation throughout the body and can cause brain atrophy. When this occurs, the risk of anxiety increases exponentially. Switching to a gluten-free diet can relieve anxiety and depression symptoms, especially if you are not responding to the traditional anxiety treatment methods. 

If you are experiencing digestive disturbances and anxiety, talk with your healthcare practitioner about whether a gluten sensitivity may be causing your anxiety. Your doctor may recommend trying an elimination diet to determine if a gluten intolerance or celiac disease is negatively affecting your mood and increasing your anxiety.

4. Alcohol – Consuming large amounts of alcohol or imbibing in alcohol too often can increase the risk of anxiety symptoms. Many people think that drinking alcohol helps them relax; however, excess amounts of alcohol can reduce the amount of sleep you get each night. Furthermore, large amounts of alcohol can be toxic and can negatively impact brain function and mental health. 

Alcohol reduces the production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Furthermore, it can cause your nervous system to become hypersensitive. When alcohol is consumed, it can cause dehydration, which can increase the risk of brain atrophy. 

Consuming alcohol can impact your glucose levels. The sugars in alcohol can cause high glucose levels. As the body quickly processes these sugars, your blood glucose levels can crash. These changes in glucose levels can affect your mood, cause you to feel edgy, and increase the risk of anxiety.

5. Dairy products – Dairy products like milk and cheese provide your body with vitamin d and calcium; however, casein (a protein that naturally occurs in dairy products) can cause inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. This is especially true in individuals who have a milk allergy or sensitivity.
 

If you have a milk sensitivity or a milk allergy and suffer from anxiety, eliminating bovine dairy products from your diet can help. Replace these dairy products with almond, cashew, or soy-based milk products and see if your anxiety decreases. You can also try goat’s milk and goat cheese to see if you have a reaction.

Dairy
6. Sodium –Too much sodium in your diet can negatively impact your neurological system, which can cause a multitude of health issues including fatigue and sleep issues. Your brain requires plenty of sleep to produce neurotransmitters and the hormones needed for optimal mental health.
When you do not get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, your body cannot produce serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters needed to balance the mood and reduce your anxiety levels. Although you do need a certain amount of salt in your diet, too much of a good thing can be dangerous and disastrous to your mental health.
7. Refined sugars – Refined sugar can increase your stress and anxiety levels because it increases inflammation throughout the body. When you are under a lot of stress, it can be tempting to munch on cookies, cakes, ice cream, or other sugary items; however, eating these items will further increase your stress levels.  

Your body naturally craves these sugary treats when you are under stress. These sweets provide your body with energy when the fight or flight response is activated. Unfortunately, refined sugar is quickly processed in the body, resulting in blood glucose spikes and crashes. These spikes and crashes wreak havoc on your body and your mood.  

When you crave something sweet, reach for a healthy sweet fruit like a banana, some strawberries, or a piece of melon to satisfy your sweet tooth. These fruits will provide nutrients to your body and brain, but will not cause your blood sugar to crash, which causes anxiety.

8. Processed foods – Processed foods and other fast foods are filled with artificial colorings, artificial flavorings, preservatives, additives, and other chemicals that can cause systemic inflammation. When inflammation occurs, it causes a decline in your mood, makes your brain not function properly, and makes it difficult for the body to produce endorphins.
 

Protect your health and your mood by opting for whole foods rather than processed foods. Choose fruits and veggies for delicious snacks, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to improve your mental well-being and reduce your anxiety levels naturally.

Avoiding certain foods will not cure anxiety; however, eating a diet filled with healthy foods can improve your overall mental health. If you suffer from anxiety, avoid the foods listed above. Instead choose healthy comfort foods that are rich in Vitamin D, which helps balance and regulate your mood and improve your brain health. Finally, exercise daily and practice stress relief techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises to help reduce your stress, decrease your anxiety, and improve your mental health.

 

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