Anxiety and depression are some of the most common mental conditions in the US. And yet it is also very commonly left untreated. These conditions are not taken seriously and people suffer silently and refrain from asking for help. But this is a totally wrong stance to take. Anxiety and depression are just as serious as any other illnesses. And you must not be ashamed to reach out for help. If you feel uncomfortable leaving your home, you can also connect with a medical clinic in Santa Ana, CA to receive the treatment you need.
In addition to getting professional help, you must do your part too. Start taking steps to improve your lifestyle. Exercise, meet up with friends, distract yourself, and meditate. But the most important of all changes that you cannot skip is the food you eat.
How does food affect your mental state?
You are what you eat. It’s a statement that you cannot prove wrong. For generations, we have always heard people say that you must eat healthily. That’s because the well being of your body and mind is decided by what you munch on.
There is enough research and material online to learn how a nutritious diet can improve physical health. But how does it affect mental health? Let me explain briefly. You may already know that our body has several chemicals, more than 60 different types. And it is the presence, absence or ratios of these chemicals in the body that starts or stops a body function to decide the way we feel. Now we can control these chemicals in a number of ways, one of which is our diet. Even your doctor may even have told you of a few foods that will be effective in managing a healthy mental state. Here’s why.
There’s a connection that exists between what you eat and what you feel. Scientifically it’s called the food mood connection. For example, when you eat high fiber foods like fruits and vegetables, it will improve your gut health that will further help release happy hormones like serotonin. And as a result, the mood improves. It is even proved that a Mediterranean diet can have positive effects on your mental health.
So while people explain what to include in a diet to improve mental conditions, not a lot of people talk about food that should be avoided. So let’s take a look at some food that can worsen the symptoms of anxiety and depression and should be avoided.
Bread is a very common part of the diet. It’s rich in fiber and good for digestion. But if you are using white bread while suffering from depression or anxiety, it can cause problems. White bread is a processed form of carbs which is easily digested by the body. This is how it is immediately turned into sugar and gives you an insulin rush. But the rush drops just as fast and makes you lethargic. A sudden rise in sugar level can worsen anxiety and depression.
Instead of white sugar, use whole wheat bread. It contains complex carbs which takes time to break down and so the sugar is released in the blood slowly. Its high fiber content will also increase the serotonin level in the body and uplift your mood.
Most of the foods on this list are here because of their high sugar levels. So if you are a patient of a mental condition, high sugar is not a good thing for you. For starters, sugar inhibits your brain’s ability to work properly. It also reduces your body’s adequate response to stress. And this imbalance can cause mood disorders and increase the chances of depression and anxiety.
Even artificial sugar is harmful for your well being. Aspartame is known to be dangerous for anxiety and depression because it reduces the production of serotonin and causes side effects like headaches, frequent mood changes etc.
Many people have a habit of consuming fruits in the form of juice instead of eating it as it is. It may not be a great idea if you are suffering mentally. A glass of fruit juice may contain the nutrients you need but it also has loads of sugar without any insoluble fiber. The sugar will be absorbed immediately into the blood and give you an adrenaline rush. You may even mistake it with a panic attack. None of these factors point towards a healthy mental state.
So eat whole fruits instead. The fiber will prevent the sugar from being absorbed immediately and you will be able to take advantage of the wholesome goodness.
Not able to work due to anxiety? Don’t think about taking a cup of coffee. It will do more harm than good. Coffee, more specifically caffeine, can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety. It may give you a temporary boost only to make you feel worse later. Or deliver effects similar to anxiety like lightheadedness, nausea, nervousness etc.
Caffeine also inhibits serotonin synthesis in the brain which is not good for a person with anxiety. In addition to this, caffeine reduces sleep that only worsens anxiousness.
So choose herbal or green tea over coffee or drink decaf coffee only.
It’s very common for people who feel anxious or depressed to find relief in alcohol. But, it’s only a temporary solution. And if you aren’t drinking in moderation, your friend is going to stab you in the back. Just like coffee, alcohol also induces the symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate, nausea and sweating. It also affects your sleep and hydration level which can even trigger the symptoms of anxiety. Alcohol also works in the body by reducing the level of neurotransmitters which only heightens your anxiety.
No matter the reason for you changing your diet, processed foods are always in the list of ‘food you should avoid’. If your past life has been all about potato chips, donuts, burgers, pizza, cookies or even cereals, it’s time to let it go. These are the culprits behind your high levels of mental stress.
Processed food has high sugar and salt content that leads to a rise in depression and anxiety. This is why you must shift to whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and whole foods. According to a study, people who eat processed food have 58% more chance of depression than those who consume whole foods. So make your choice now.
Every healthy change in lifestyle includes a change in the diet. Food is fuel for your body. And if you are expecting better performance, you’ll have to feed on better food too. So in addition to focusing on what to include in your diet, take time to figure out the foods that hinder the goal of achieving good health. So along with the list of food mentioned here, observe your diet and get rid of such unhealthy food. Find their better and healthier alternatives and live a happy and healthy life.