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Anxiety and Food

 With the holidays around the corner, many people are feeling the stress.

 Many people do not realize the impact food can have on anxiety. There are many foods that can either reduce or increase the symptoms of anxiety. Although changing the diet may not completely eliminate anxiety, it can have a strong impact on alleviating the symptoms. Studies have shown that some foods make us feel calmer while other foods can act as stimulants — at least temporarily. Nutrients, in particular, that are found in these types of foods should be taken into account. Below is a list of foods and nutrients that have either a beneficial or an adverse effect on anxiety.

Beneficial Effects on Anxiety

  1. Magnesium: magnesium is a calming mineral that nourishes the nervous system and helps prevent anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. Foods that are high in magnesium include whole grains, seaweed, dark leafy greens, legumes, beef, chicken, fish (especially halibut, cod and salmon), nuts, seeds, bananas, watermelon, figs, potatoes and green beans.
  2. Tryptophan: Tryptophan’s most useful benefits is that it is a mood regulator. Supplementing with L-Tryptophan and its by-product 5-HTP can improve your mood and relieve stress. Turkey , many different nuts, seeds like sunflower and pumpkin, raw oats, beans, and eggs and seaweed are some foods that are high in tryptophan.
  3. Antioxidants: According to one study, the results indicated that after giving antioxidants vitamins supplements to persons with anxiety and stress, there was an increase in their blood levels and at the same time, their depression and anxiety scores are decreasing. Foods high in antioxidants include fruits such as pomegranate, pineapple, grapefruit, acai berries, blueberries; vegetables like beets, peppers, kale and spinach to name some few and legumes.
  4. Zinc: It turns out that zinc plays a part in balancing mood by modulating the brain and body’s response to stress. Major sources of zinc are found in meat, poultry, oysters, nuts such as almonds and cashews, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, chocolate and mushrooms.
  5. Iron: A lack of iron, or anemia, can cause anxiety as a symptom. Those that are anemic are placing their body under a great deal of stress, and this often sends messages to the brain to be more anxious. It is important to maintain a good level of iron in the body to reduce anxiety symptoms. Foods rich in iron include red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, dark, leafy greens, and dried fruit.


Adverse Effects on Anxiety


  1. Caffeine: Caffeine has been shown to inhibit levels of serotonin in the brain, and, when serotonin levels are suppressed, you can become depressed and feel irritable.
  2. Sugar: Sugar can make us feel better, but only temporarily. Sugar is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. The absorption causes an initial high or surge of energy. But that surge wears off as the body increases its insulin production to remove the sugar from your bloodstream. The result: You’re left feeling tired and low.
  3. Alcohol: alcohol is a depressant and it is a diuretic. It’s important to stay hydrated for a number of reasons, including mood. If you do drink, drink in moderation. Having a 6-ounce glass of wine at dinner is fine but anything more than that can have a negative effect on your mood.

Fried Foods: eating fried foods clogs arteries with fat and reduces blood flow throughout the body, including the flow of blood to the brain. The parts of the brain that regulate mood and stress response cannot operate optimally when deprived of neurotransmitters, oxygen, enzymes, nutrients and other chemicals that are carried by blood into the brain.


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