Foods That Might Be Making Your Anxiety Worse

by Dr. Nick Zyrowski June 14, 2023

Anxiety causes people to avoid many situations that could trigger their symptoms. They miss out on otherwise enjoyable activities due to an overwhelming fear that their anxiety will worsen. What’s more, some people don’t want to talk about it because they’re afraid of what others might think. Those who do get up the nerve to go to the doctor are often given a prescription for a pharmaceutical and told to give it a few weeks, and things will get better. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill for health, and fixing your anxiety is no exception. In this article, we’ll show you some of the foods that might make your anxiety worse and give you some ways to start feeling better naturally.

How food affects your anxiety

If you think food doesn’t affect your mental health, you’re sadly mistaken. When you consume processed foods that are high in sugar and dangerous ingredients, your body and mind will pay the price. Eating this way has been associated with more psychiatric symptoms. It will increase your cortisol levels, which can, in turn, increase your anxiety and stress. (2)

Alternatively, some foods can reduce your anxiety symptoms and make you feel better. You won’t just begin to heal physically when you eat better. You’ll also get more mental clarity and improve your emotional well-being. Let’s look at some of the foods that may trigger your anxiety symptoms.

Sugar

By now, you know sugar is bad for you. What you might not realize is how bad it is for making things like depression, mood swings, and anxiety worse. After that initial energy boost you get from sugar, your blood glucose drops quickly, and soon you’ll feel lethargic and crave more sugary foods. In some people, sugar even causes panic attacks. (3) There are hidden sugars in most electrolyte drinks and fruit juices. When you want an energy boost and need to replenish your electrolytes, you need a quality product with powerful hydrating nutrients and no added sugars.

Processed foods

Like sugar, when you eat processed carbs, your blood sugar spikes and then drops fast. If you eat a more balanced diet that contains healthy carbs, protein, and fat, your blood sugar will remain stable. Those spikes in blood sugar make your anxious feelings much worse. It’s a physical reaction that leads to dramatic mood swings for some people. Don’t be fooled into foods or drinks that claim they’re healthy. Many products also contain highly inflammable seed oils and hidden toxins.

Unhealthy fats

There are good and bad fats. Hydrogenated oils can make anxiety levels peak. Research shows that more hydrogenated oils are associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress than healthy fats. (4) That means you should skip the canola and vegetable oils, and margarine. Instead, consume healthy fats like butter, olive, and avocado oil. Lots of people buy hydrogenated oils because they’re cheap, and companies use them to preserve foods and cut costs. Don’t be fooled by fancy marketing tactics. Plant-based margarine is still margarine and it’s not good for you.

Artificial sweeteners

Our society is filled with commercials of people who look fit while sipping on diet soda. This is one of those marketing tactics we mentioned. Artificial sweeteners contain neurotoxins that will disrupt your normal nervous system function. (5) These dangerous sweeteners can also inhibit dopamine and serotonin transport to the brain, making you more prone to anxiety issues. That means you should avoid anything that has aspartame in it. If you want a sweet treat, look for ingredients like allulose, stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol.

Food additives

The next time you go shopping for groceries, like at the ingredients for some of the foods you typically buy. You may be surprised to see items like monosodium glutamate (MSG), food dyes, and some chemicals you cannot pronounce. These additives can cause inflammation that affects brain tissue and makes anxiety worse. (6) One of the reasons we suggest shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is because that’s where whole foods are found. These contain one ingredient and you don’t need to worry about dangerous food additives being in your meals. You don’t need packaged foods to make easy, delicious meals. There are tons of quick, healthy recipes you can make that won’t contain unhealthy food additives.

Caffeine

We know this is a big one for many people. Most people can consume caffeine in moderation and feel fine. In our society, we often take things to another level. We are so busy and sleep-deprived that it can be hard to function. That leads to the overconsumption of caffeine products. Research has shown that consuming the equivalent of five cups of coffee can increase or even induce panic attacks. (7) We know that indulging in too much caffeine can make your anxiety symptoms worse. If you’re feeling tired, you may be dehydrated and simply need to drink more water.

Foods that reduce anxiety

Just like some foods make your anxiety worse, other foods that can calm those symptoms and make you feel better. You want to increase these foods in your diet while cutting out the unhealthy ones. Here are some of the foods you want to put in your shopping cart:

  • Meats - These days, meat gets a bad reputation from the mainstream media, and plant-based diets are all the rage. Meat and poultry are good sources of protein and contain lots of nutrients your body needs. You get zinc, iron, iodine, B12, and essential fatty acids when you eat meat.
  • Magnesium-rich foods - Magnesium helps with brain functions, so it stands to reason that you want more of it in your diet. Foods like broccoli, avocado, nuts, and seeds are good sources of magnesium. Many people with anxiety even find they’re deficient in magnesium and may need a supplement, too.
  • Healthy fats - Consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your anxiety. You want to eat fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines. Chia seeds, almonds, and walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Prebiotic and probiotic foods- serotonin, the hormone that regulates mood, is mostly found in your gut. Having a healthy gut microbiome is essential for reducing stress and anxiety. You can get fermented foods like aged cheese, sauerkraut, and plain yogurt to help keep your gut healthy.

Reduce your stress

You know that reducing your stress will help your anxiety, but until now, you probably thought the only way to do that was with a pill. When you change your diet, you can reduce your stress naturally, and often those overwhelming feelings of anxiety will start to melt away. Be patient with yourself and begin making these changes to feel better. We always say that true health only comes naturally. That includes your mental and emotional health. Knowledge is power, and once you know better, you can do better. Living a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, and we want to help. Contact us today to see if one of our holistic programs is right for you!

References :

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders#:~:text=Anxiety%20disorders%20are%20the%20most,people%20lead%20normal%20productive%20lives.

https://www.bannerhealth.com/healthcareblog/better-me/can-certain-foods-increase-stress-and-anxiety

https://www.intrepidmentalhealth.com/blog/5-common-foods-that-can-trigger-anxiety-symptoms

https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/6-feel-good-foods-that-actually-increase-anxiety-levels/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193237/

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2213120119

https://neurosciencenews.com/food-aditives-anxiety-10580/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34871964/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Meat-and-poultry

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hydrogentated-oil#uses

Dr. Nick Zyrowski
Dr. Nick Zyrowski



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