Foods that Help or Heighten Anxiety

We all know that eating well helps our physical health but our mental health? Yes it’s true! Studies have shown that certain foods can be calming while others are more stimulating.

If you think about it certain foods can inflame our guts, then our blood vessels, then our brains. So try adding these 5 foods into your diet and avoiding these 4 food items.

#1 Foods to Eat: Turkey and Tryptophan rich foods. These foods produce feel good chemicals. Tryptophan is an amino acid, a precursor to serotonin, and serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm. Foods containing tryptophan are chicken, oats, milk, cheese, nuts, and peanut butter. because this amino acid helps your brain produce feel-good chemicals. “Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter, helps you feel calm,” said San Francisco nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association (now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

You will find tryptophan in a variety of foods: turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, soy, nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. However, there is some question about whether tryptophan found in food crosses the blood-brain barrier, so the effect is not going to be a dramatic one because this amino acid helps your brain produce feel-good chemicals. “Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter, helps you feel calm,” said San Francisco nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association (now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

You will find tryptophan in a variety of foods: turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, soy, nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. However, there is some question about whether tryptophan found in food crosses the blood-brain barrier, so the effect is not going to be a dramatic one

#2 Foods to Eat: Beef and Foods Rich in B-Vitamins. We have numerous studies showing beef has B-1, B-12, Folate and more that help with mood and particularly that B12 and Folate help with depression as well as digestion. You can take a good quality B-Complex or add in pork, chicken, leafy greens, legumes, rice, as well as nuts, and eggs.

#3 Foods to Eat: Whole Grains. Carbohydrates also increase Serotonin in the body, however choose whole grains versus processed or overly refined grains. This means Brown rice, and multigrain breads not cakes, cookies, and scones. Whole grains take longer to break down thereby releasing sugars in to the body more slowly. Processed carbs can give you a surge of energy known as an insulin rush then your blood sugar will drop leaving you lethargic and craving more sugars.

#4 Foods to Eat: Salmon and Fatty Fish. Evidence continues to mount that consuming Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) from foods like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, Anchovies, and sardines can be uplifting and can enhance your mood. Do remember to eat wild caught fish with low mercury exposure. This is a fantastic resource for healthy fish choices: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-good-seafood-guide

#5 Foods to Eat: High-Protein Foods. Protein helps stimulate the production of the brain chemicals dopamine
and norepinephrine. These are also neurotransmitters that carry nerve impulses. Higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine have been shown to improve alertness, mental energy, and reaction time. Good sources of protein include meats, fish, seafood, nuts, dairy products, beans, and lentils. The ideal for mood boasting as well as sugar balancing is to combine complex carbs with proteins in small, nutrient dense meals throughout the day.

#1A Foods to Avoid: Caffeinated drinks. Although I am a fan of coffee personally it is a stimulant. Caffeine is now added to sodas, “energy” drinks, and is in teas, even hot chocolate. These can give one energy but can also cause dehydration. Dehydration can cause fatigue even headaches. Caffeine has been shown to inhibit serotonin which can make us feel depressed and irritable. Caffeine is also a diuretic causing one to go to the bathroom more. Caffeine can also keep one awake, interrupting sleep patterns, which can cause more stress and anxiety. Getting enough healthy sleep helps all of us be in more positive moods.

#2B Foods to Avoid: Candy Almost everyone likes sweets and those containing table sugar, honey, and corn syrup all raise our blood sugar thus giving us a temporary lift or energized feeling. However again once it wears off (because sugar is quickly absorbed into our bloodstream) we feel tired and low. Also high fructose corn syrup negatively affects the liver, pushing out Uric Acid (which can cause gout or joint pain) as well as never signaling your brain that sugar is in the body. This means the brain never sends out Leptin which tells you you’re full, thus you keep consuming processed sweets but don’t ever feel satisfied.

#3C Foods to Avoid: Alcohol Some people drink alcohol because it seems to ease stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, the good mood is temporary, in the long run alcohol is a depressant. Also like caffeine, alcohol acts like a diuretic and is dehydrating. Once again staying well hydrated helps our moods as well as our entire body systems to function better. If you do drink, drink in moderation. A 6-ounce glass of wine at dinner is fine, drinking an entire bottle is a whole other issue.

Studies have shown that some foods make us feel calmer while other foods can act as stimulants — at least temporarily. If you experience stress and anxiety or panic attacks, making some modifications to your diet may help alleviate your symptoms. Here are five foods you may want to add to your diet to boost your mood, and four foods you may want to avoid because they can increase stress and even possibly cause a depressed mood.
#4D Foods to Avoid: Hot Dogs and Processed Foods.

Can processed foods, like hot dogs, fried foods, packaged cakes, and pies cause mental health issues? We know they can cause obesity, inflammation, and depression. Research has found that folks who ate processed meats, high sugar desserts, fried foods, and high fat dairy products had a 58% higher risk for depression then
folks who ate “whole” foods like fresh vegetables and fish. For many health concerns it’s best to skip over all processed foods.

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