What to Eat for Anxiety (And What to Avoid)

anxiety foods

What you eat can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing, and mental health is no exception to this. Some foods have been shown to have a positive effect on anxiety symptoms while others are known to make anxiety worse. Here are some of the key foods and drinks that can help to reduce anxiety, plus some of the ones to avoid.

What to Eat for Reducing Anxiety

Fruits

Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress, which can alter key neurotransmitters in the brain. In one study, anxiety has been linked to low consumption of antioxidants so it’s definitely worth upping your intake of fruit if you’re struggling with anxiety. Aim for as many different colours as you can to get a range of nutrients as well as antioxidants.

Salmon

Salmon is linked to a healthy brain, not least because it’s a good source of vitamin D and fatty acids EPA and DHA. All of these nutrients are thought to help to regulate the dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters, which are linked to calmness.

Adding more salmon to your diet can be an easy way to improve your wellbeing and it’s backed up by research too. In one study, men who ate Atlantic salmon three times per week also experienced less anxiety.

Turkey

Turkey is a good source of L-tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin. It’s been shown to improve symptoms of depression and social anxiety.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut promote a healthy gut, which has a lot more to do with your brain than you might think. Studies suggest that eating probiotics and fermented foods regularly can be good for anxiety – even to the point of potentially preventing anxiety and depression. One study in particular looked at the role that fermented foods can play in treating social anxiety.

Turmeric

If you’re not adding this spice to your diet on a regular basis, you’re missing out on another chance to decrease anxiety symptoms.

It’s thought that turmeric may help the body to produce more of the omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, which is linked to key neurotransmitters in the brain.

Another factor is turmeric’s anti inflammatory qualities. This can reduce inflammation in the body and decrease inflammatory markers such as cytokines, which are also connected to anxiety and depression.

Water

Wondering about what to drink to tackle anxiety? Water is a great choice. Even being just a little bit dehydrated can affect your mood and how your brain functions, which in turn can promote anxious thoughts and feelings. One theory is that it is linked to a primal survival strategy to find water and stay hydrated but whatever the real reason, water is definitely one drink to reach for when you’re anxious.

Green Tea

Green tea contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that has shown potential for encouraging relaxation and relieving some of the physical symptoms of stress, including a fast heart rate.

Drinks containing L-Theanine can also reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Sipping green tea several times per day can potentially bring cortisol levels down so it’s a great choice when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

Other studies on mice have suggested that green tea can reduce anxiety to much the same extent as some anxiety medications.

Camomile Tea

According to a study from the University of Pennsylvania, drinking chamomile tea for 8 weeks helped to reduce anxiety symptoms and promote relaxation.

In another study, taking chamomile extract for 8 weeks was shown to reduce anxiety symptoms and demonstrate antidepressant effects.

Unfortunately it seems that drinking chamomile tea doesn’t have quite the same effects for reducing anxiety compared to the extracts (which are stronger), although there is a lot more research to be done in this area before any definite conclusions can be made. One plus point in favour of chamomile tea is the ability to help to make you feel calmer. And that’s always welcome when anxiety is starting to take hold!

Foods and Drinks to Avoid for Anxiety

So now you know about the foods and drinks that can help to reduce anxiety, what about the main culprits in promoting it?

Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and one study even found that it can make you more likely to have a panic attack, especially if you’re already prone to anxiety.

Processed Foods

Processed and sugary foods are a double whammy for anxiety. They spike your blood sugar to begin with and then encourage it to crash. According to a study from Colombia University, it also increases your riskincreases your risk of depression and mood changes – especially for women.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can make anxiety worse for more than a few reasons. It can affect blood sugar, is dehydrating and can even change neurotransmitters in the brain if you drink regularly and in excess.

The more you drink, the worse it can be. One study found a strong link between social anxiety and alcohol dependency.

Are High Heels Bad for Your Health?

Are High Heels Bad for Your Health_

You might love your heels but do you love what they do to your feet?

If you wear heels on a regular basis, you’ve probably found that they don’t feel half as good as they look.

They’re not the most comfortable footwear item to have on for any great length of time, and this can lead to pain, swelling and bunions. The problems don’t necessarily end there though as there can be more serious effects too.

Why Are High Heels Often a Bad Idea?

If you wear high heels a lot, there’s a chance that you could be storing up long term damage to your knees, according to research.

Wearing high heels forces your feet into an unnatural position, in which your body weight transfers to the balls of your feet and affects the balance of your lower body.  This is more pronounced with a thinner heel so stilettos will unbalance you more than wedge heels, for example.

It can lead to bunions (a painful swelling that can develop in the area where your big toe meets your foot) and swellings on the nerves between your toes.

It can even change your walking style, and studies have found that this carries on even when you’re not wearing heels. This means that the effects of wearing high heels can go far beyond the length of time that they’re actually on your feet.

In this study, researchers in Australia recruited two groups of women – some of whom had typically been wearing heels for at least 40 hours in the average week in the last two years and a control group who didn’t wear high heels very much at all.

Both groups were asked to move repeatedly up and down a walkway that measured the forces that they generated as they walked. The control group went barefoot, while the “heels” group went both barefoot and in their preferred heels. Even when walking barefoot, the “heels” group moved differently to the control group – with “shorter, more purposeful strides” and with their feet in a flexed position. This meant that their calf muscles were shorter and took much more of the strain as they walked, compared to the control group.

The women were in their 20s and 30s, which indicates that wearing high heels can start to have an effect earlier on in the life and that it doesn’t take decades to feel the negative repercussions.

Shorter, tighter calf muscles are common for women who regularly wear high heels as they adjust to the height of your heels and in some cases, it can cause the Achilles tendon to shorten to the extent that wearing flat shoes is almost impossible. It also pulls other muscles out of their natural alignment and this makes you more likely to suffer from pain in your knees, lower back, neck and shoulders.

Do You Need to Ditch Your Heels?

You don’t necessarily need to go cold turkey on your heels altogether but it’s a good idea to at least cut back on how often you wear them, especially if they’re your favourite choice of footwear.

The effects of high heels on your muscles and tendons can be exaggerated if the ones you wear are always round about the same height. This makes it more likely that your muscles will shorten to accommodate this particular height but if you switch things up, this is a bit less likely.

Stretching out your calf muscles regularly can also help to counteract the extent that they are likely to shorten.