Doctors and scientists now know that what you put into your body as food or drink can affect your emotions and can contribute to or alleviate anxiety, depending on what you eat. The nutrients and non-nutrients in certain foods affect the brain and a bad diet can contribute to having an anxious personality or spells of panic.

Foods to Avoid

The American diet is not conducive to a healthy brain and anxiety can come about as a result.

Here are some foods you need to avoid if you want to stay calm and healthy:

• Caffeine – Caffeine is found in coffee, some teas, chocolate, and cola drinks. The caffeine acts to stimulate the brain, contributing to anxiety and panic in susceptible individuals. Drink more water, fruit juices, and herbal teas in order to reduce your level of anxiety.

• Sugar – Sugar is quickly absorbed into the body once it is eaten. It can produce a temporary sugar high, which is interpreted by some as feelings of anxiety. Worse yet, when the sugar clears out of the bloodstream, you feel a low and depressed mood. These mood swings are not healthy for people who suffer from anxiety. It is much better to eat foods with a low glycemic index, which means foods in which the sugar is more slowly absorbed by the body.

• Alcohol – Many people feel that alcohol relieves anxiety but it is only a temporary phenomenon. The result is that alcohol becomes a depressant, leaving you morose and unsettled. Drinking a bit of wine for dinner won’t hurt you but excessive amounts of alcohol can permanently damage the brain.

• Processed foods like hot dogs, pastries, and cakes that are not handmade – These foods contain preservatives that negatively affect your mood. Research has shown that those who eat a diet high in processed foods have greater rates of anxiety and depression. You would do better with food rich in lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats that are free of preservatives.

Foods That Help Anxiety

There are also calming foods that can help to lower your level of anxiety and can regulate your moods.

Here are some foods you should be eating if you want to reduce your anxiety levels:

• Greek yogurt and other foods containing protein – Scientists have discovered that Greek yogurt and the protein found in beans, lean meats, lentils and nuts have the ability to raise the brain’s level of dopamine and norepinephrine. You will feel more mentally alert and will have more physical stamina. Dopamine helps you feel good, alleviating some of the anxious thinking that goes on in your mind.

• Salmon and other fatty fishes – These fish products contain high amounts of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are known to increase wellbeing and improve your mood. People who take antidepressants and who eat fish high in omega 3 fatty acids improve their mood faster than taking the antidepressant alone.

• Whole grain foods – Foods high in whole grains allow the gradual absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and raise the brain’s concentration of serotonin, which regulates mood and helps you feel better. Substitute highly processed foods with whole grain; natural foods and you will feel much better and have less anxiety and depression.

• Lean meats like beef – These are foods that contain B vitamins, known for their mood enhancement properties. Thiamine or B1 is one of the calming B vitamins. People low in vitamin B12 have higher risks of stress-related depression when compared to those who have enough B12 in their system.

• Turkey – Turkey is high in L tryptophan, which is a natural sedative and can help you feel more calm and peaceful, as it is a calming amino acid that can help symptoms of depression and anxiety.

No one has a perfect diet but, if you have anxiety or depression, you can make some key changes in your diet that can help you feel better and have fewer anxious symptoms. Consume a diet that is rich in whole food as opposed to processed junk that lacks the proper nutrition the body needs to not only combat anxiety but to reap many other health benefits.