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The Dietary Connection Between Anxiety and Nutrition

Tue, Feb 14, 2012

Anxiety, Nutrition, Stress

anxiety and nutrition imageDo you worry about your health? Do you feel anxious about little things that shouldn’t even bother you?

Most of us feel anxious about money, jobs, relationships, and even life in general. It’s normal for everyone to feel anxious at times, but some people definitely have it worse than others. According to the ADAA (Anxiety Disorders Association of America) “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.”

These disorders affect at least 40 million adults, ages 18 and older. If you suffer from anxiety issues, nutrition may be a huge help! Nutrition can affect the way the body reacts to many things, which includes it’s reaction in the form of anxiety disorders. What you eat may make you more anxious. Foods can depress us and they make us happy, but it is more important that food makes us feel good about ourselves, both inside and out.

Let’s start out with some basics on anxiety disorders. And then we’ll look at the aspects of nutrition in relation to anxiety problems.

Common Types of Anxiety Disorders

If you worry on a daily basis, about pretty much anything and everything, you would likely be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and put on medication if you were to see a psychiatrist. If you’ve suffered a traumatic event you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD happens often to veterans, rape victims and people who have lost someone close to them. Social anxiety may be what you have if you have a fear of social situations. If you suffer from stage fright then you have performance anxiety. There is also Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, OCD, in which you may obsessively do things; obsessive hand washing and locking a door a certain number of times each time.

Trust me, if you’ve got any kind of anxiety, they’ve named it and able psychiatrists are standing by, ready to prescribe medications for it!

Each anxiety disorder has it’s own list of symptoms. Each has it’s own reason for coming into being. You may even suffer from more than one, or you may think you have an anxiety disorder when you are actually suffering from stress or depression.

Anxiety disorders should be diagnosed by a doctor through testing and observation, however, I believe that in most cases of minor anxiety, you can learn to overcome it through great nutrition and simple relaxation exercises such as deep breathing and meditation.

What Nutrition Has To Do With It

Nutrition is important in so many ways. Eating right keeps the body healthy and in shape. Eating right means eating the right foods, the right amounts of those foods and staying away from foods that have little or no nutritional value. The right foods basically include natural, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits, berries and vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Eating the right amounts requires portion control. Each food type has it’s own rules for portions. Foods with little or no nutritional value are those that are usually categorized as junk food, like candy made of nothing but sugar and artificial chemicals like dyes and flavorings.

There are certain foods, or food contents, that can cause anxiety related reactions. Rapid heart beat, flushed face, jitters and other nervous reaction are often related to anxiety disorders and there are several foods, artificial and natural, that can cause these same symptoms.

Here are some foods that should be reduced or avoided by anyone with anxiety, especially those who suffer from anxiety disorders:

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and can be addictive for those with addictive personalities. Caffeine gets the heart rate up, just like anxiety and panic attacks. Avoid caffeine as much as possible. Caffeine is found in many places: sodas, candy, coffee, some teas, energy drinks and more.

Table Salt

Most doctors will tell you to avoid added salt anyway, or use a salt substitute. Table salt is known to raise a person’s blood pressure. Raised blood pressure happens during anxiety and panic attacks too. This simple item that people believes to add flavor to their foods also adds to their poor heart health and anxiety issues.

If you’re going to eat salt, eat a natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan crystal sea salt or Celtic sea salts because they’re loaded with natural minerals that will nourish your body. Always avoid table salt and processed salts because they’re basically poison, processed with bleach and often filled with other chemical additives.

Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is used in many soups, Chinese foods and other food items. It can cause symptoms like headaches and chest pains, which mock anxiety. It’s also a dangerous excitotoxin that overstimulates your nerve cells until cell death. Scary stuff! Avoid it at all costs.

Alcohol

Lay off the booze when you have anxiety issues. It may seem to be relaxing in the beginning, but once it is absorbed into the system it can add to the jitters and anxiety. Studies have found that heavy and moderate drinkers also suffer from more anxiety than nondrinkers.

Sugar

Again, processed and refined sugars are another item that most people know they should avoid. Sugar in excess can cause face flushing and an elevated heart rate. It also cause a spare tire around your middle. If you want something sweet eat a strawberry!

Processed Foods

Processed foods, like packaged lunch meats, are made with lots of salt and other strange ingredients. Read labels, eat fresh as much as possible, and just eat healthier.

Another major thing that can cause mental issues, such as anxiety disorders, are food allergies. Those of us who suffer from Gluten intolerance and allergies, like Celiac disease, have reported having anxiety-like reactions, as well as memory loss. Keep track of the foods you eat and how they make you feel by starting a food journal. This will help you know which foods to avoid that may trigger or worsen your anxiety problems.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. vitamins for dogs Says:

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  2. Bernetta Wrench Says:

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