Anxiety can be defined as a mental illness that has serious repercussions on our life and our way of thinking, feeling and acting. For example, a panic attack, which is a type of anxiety episode, is a sudden and intense feeling of fear that will last for a short period of time. That said, certain types of foods and drinks can trigger or contribute to anxiety and depression. Below you will find foods to avoid if you suffer from anxiety.
- Caffeine: Most people know that caffeine is mostly found in coffee, energy drinks, teas and chocolate. Dietitians of Canada explain that caffeine excites the nervous system and has the ability to improve alertness for short periods of time. With this in mind, the Canadian Mental Health Association says that when someone has anxiety, especially panic attacks, they may experience rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
- Alcohol: The American Addiction Centers explain that some people use alcohol to try to cope with anxiety. People might assume, because alcohol is a depressant and often has a sedative effect on people, that it could be used to relax. But the National Center for Biotechnology Information explains that the use of alcohol to help reduce anxiety often turns against people. In fact, they also mention that prolonged drinking can actually cause anxiety.
- Sugar: According to Dr. William Cole, Principal Director of the Cole Natural Health Centers Clinic, current research has found that high levels of serotonin can worsen anxiety. Sugar is one of the main sources that can increase serotonin levels. A study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry was conducted to see if there was an association between serotonin synthesis and social anxiety disorder.
- Trans Fats: Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated fats, are considered one of the worst foods for your diet, but what many do not know is that they are also bad for your mood. According to a study published in PLOS, trans fats are associated with an increased risk of depression. Spanish researchers followed more than 12,000 Spanish university graduates, who had no symptoms of depression, for a total of six years. They monitored their consumption of various types of fat and their onset of depression.
Researchers found a substantial (48%) relative increase in the risk of depression in the highest consumption category. The researchers added that one of the reasons that trans fat could increase symptoms of depression is inflammation and impaired functioning of the endothelial cells lining the blood cells.
- Gluten: According to a published study on PubMed, celiac disease, which is a gluten-dependent immune mediated disease, has been associated with depression and other related mood disorders. Another study on PubMed found that gluten-sensitive older adults were twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to the control group.
Before adding or removing certain foods from your diet, I suggest that you first consult your doctor to see if you have mental health problems. From there, I would consult a dietitian or nutritionist and ask them to help you create an appropriate diet that will not contribute to your mental health problem.