What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety isn’t simply worrying too much. Rather, anxiety is characterized by intense fear or apprehension regarding the future, which causes physical changes within the body, such as an increased heart rate. Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the United States. It’s no secret that many individuals struggle with anxiety. In this article, we’re going to examine anxiety more closely, as well as explore the best diet when it comes to combating anxiety and feeling better.
Common Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety can happen unexpectedly. In some cases, a person may even experience an anxiety attack.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Nervousness and restlessness
- Feelings of impending danger or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Sweating and/or trembling
- Feeling fatigued, tired, or weak
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
- Trouble sleeping
- Gastrointestinal distress
In some cases, anxiety is related to specific phobias, such as particular situations or objects. As a result, there are various types of anxiety disorders, with one of the most common types being Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
The Best Anxiety Diet
Surprisingly, eating the right foods can help manage anxiety. This is because anxiety can be caused by imbalances in hormones within the body. Ensuring the balance of these chemicals often comes down to getting the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals via the food you eat.
Additionally, certain aspects of one’s diet can actually exacerbate anxiety, amplifying it and making you feel worse.
So, what should you eat, what should you avoid, and why? Let’s take a look.
Best Foods for Anxiety
Here are some foods that you may want to include in your regular diet (if you don’t already) to help conquer your anxiety and feel calmer:
- Magnesium-rich foods, including leafy greens or dark chocolate. In one study, researchers discovered that feeding mice magnesium-rich foods reduced their anxiety and helped regulate the stress response.
- Zinc-rich foods, such as oysters, liver, cashews, and eggs. These foods have been associated with lower anxiety. At the same time, it’s always a good idea to include more of these foods in your life since many people don’t get enough micronutrients, like zinc, in their regular diet.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon. Omega-3s in these fish have been linked to reducing depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Asparagus. Many individuals with anxiety and depression have folate deficiencies. Asparagus can help counteract this.
- Vitamin B-rich foods, such as eggs and avocado. These are important for various metabolic processes which can impact your mood.
- Antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, fruits, and veggies. In some cases, anxiety has been associated with lower antioxidant intake.
Worst Foods for Anxiety
In contrast, if you are an anxious person, there are various foods and beverages you may want to limit or avoid. These include:
- Alcohol. While many people turn to a glass of wine or two to cope, this can actually have worse effects, especially if you’re an anxious person. Alcohol can significantly impact your sleep and hydration, which can increase anxiety.
- Caffeine. High doses of caffeine may increase anxiety, especially in those who are caffeine sensitive. Watch your intake and be careful when you start having more than one or two cups a day, particularly if you’re prone to anxiety.
- Added sugar. Blood sugar dysregulation can have a significant impact on your mood and how you feel. And added sugar can sneak into all kinds of processed foods. Always ensure you read the ingredients, and if there is a ton of sugar, it might be best to steer clear of it.
- Refined carbs. These have a similar effect on your blood sugar when compared to added sugar foods. Again, it’s best to avoid or limit these. The occasional treat is okay, but it’s likely best if it doesn’t become a regular part of your diet.
Other Tips for Reducing Anxiety
Inevitably, your diet isn’t the end-all-be-all to reducing anxious thoughts and feelings. Thus, some other actions you can take include:
- Prioritizing sleep and getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You may need to examine and fine-tune your sleep hygiene and timing to do so.
- Participating in regular exercise. Most government departments recommend getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week.
- Actively finding ways to relax and unwind. Breathing and meditation techniques are wonderful options here.
- Learn to manage your triggers. Sometimes, this might mean distracting yourself or giving yourself the time and space you need to cope properly.
- Talk to someone (a friend or professional or both!). Sometimes, we all need a little help. It’s completely okay to reach out to a trusted friend or family member or speak with a professional who can help you discover techniques to ease your anxiety.
Anxiety isn’t fun! Thankfully, you can learn to control it through your diet and lifestyle choices with the right action. So take back control of your life and start incorporating some of the above tips (and foods!) into your daily routine today.
- AADA (Facts & Statistics)
- Mayo Clinic (Anxiety Disorders)
- Mayo Clinic (Coping with anxiety: Can diet make a difference?)
- U.S. National Library of Medicine (Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment)
- Healthline (The 4 Worst Foods for Your Anxiety)