We know that certain foods can affect how our brain and body function. Certain foods can really make some functions much worse and make our anxiety and stress levels much worse.
This guide will help you to avoid the foods that may be causing you problems.
DON’T PANIC. Please note this guide is about the foods that may need to be avoided to resolve anxiety and stress issues.
The next guide will show you the foods to add to your diet to help and to replace the foods you remove.
Artificial sweeteners are claimed to have many health issues.
Firstly some of them are vaso-constrictors, meaning they reduce the amount of blood flowing through the blood vessels and into vital parts of the body. I have heard claims from several sources that artificial sweeteners increase blood pressure and anxiety levels at the same time.
Artificial sweeteners also appear to have a negative effect on our gut flora and we know that when this is poor, mental health problems are more likely.
Clients with anxiety and stress report their problems to reduce when they remove artificial sweeteners from their diet.
Rather than believe me on this, simply remove all sweeteners from your diet for 4 weeks. Make a note of how much better you feel and then try them again and see how awful you feel.
Fizzy Drinks & Energy Drinks
Many of these drinks are high in caffeine, sugars, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and other things not good for our brain and body.
These drinks change our system’s acidity levels and are classed as neurotoxic by some experts.
Children especially react badly to these drinks with just a small amount and of course, they affect adults also.
Processed & Refind Sugars
Processed sugars are better than sweeteners but they also have a negative effect on the brain and body. Again they are acidic, make the bodywork hard to break them down and cause weight gain.
Reducing processed and refined sugars appears to help many anxiety and stress clients nicely especially when they replace the sweetness with natural sugars found in fruits.
Refined and processed sugars are found in many processed and junk foods. Do check the labels and avoid junk foods where you can.
Caffeine is known to push up our blood pressure, to overstimulate the brain and disrupt the digestive system.
Caffeine can affect different people in different ways.
For many people with anxiety and stress issues, it is worth removing or reducing caffeine for a few weeks to see how this affects your mood and energy. Do be aware that some people may feel worse before they feel better as the body takes a few days to remove the caffeine from your system.
Gluten & Wheat
Gluten is a natural protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
We should be able to handle gluten in reasonable amounts although it really can affect some people badly and can be a trigger for those with anxiety and stress problems.
We constantly keep hearing stories from clients with anxiety, stress, ADHD, ADD, mind fog, MS, ME, CFS, Fibromyalgia and other issues that removing gluten and wheat from the diet has an amazing effect on symptoms.
Gluten in commercial bread is becoming more of a problem. The traditional process of taking time over making the bread did allow the gluten to breakdown before the bread was baked.
Today bread is made much quicker and gluten levels are much higher.
To make matters worse, commercial grains have been modified and they contain more gluten than traditional wheat grains.
Wheat, especially commercial wheat has an amazing effect that it really increases blood sugar levels very quickly.
Wholegrain is always better than white, refined flours and should always be a natural choice.
Many people suffering from gluten sensitivities may find spelt and spelt sourdough bread are much easier on the gut.
Again removing commercial bread from the diet can have a dramatic result on anxiety and stress levels.
One common trait of people who suffer from anxiety and stress issues, they often consume processed foods.
The major problem with processed foods is that they contain too much fat, sugar, sweeteners, salt, additives, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours and colours. These can all have adverse effects on health, mental health and behaviour.
Although life is busy it really is important to take the time to eat freshly made, home-cooked meals on a regular basis.
The internet is our friend and has a library of how to cook simple, easy meals.
Alcohol is used by many sufferers of anxiety and stress problems as it can bring short term relief or just take the edge off the symptoms.
Sadly a small glass or two develops into three or four glasses and often increases over time.
One of the big issues with alcohol is that it depletes the body of essential nutrients and in turn, this increases anxiety levels and alters mood in a negative way.
Alcohol also puts the body under stress, reduces quality sleep and then further increases anxiety and stress levels.
Short term alcohol may feel helpful but in the long term is increases or causes further problems. Avoiding alcohol is a great move when dealing with anxiety and stress problems until they have been resolved.
Rather like alcohol, dairy products can be quite calming in the short term.
Some studies are showing growing evidence that dairy products can cause or increase anxiety issues. Part of the issue is Casomorphin that is naturally found in cows milk. Yes, it is a type of morphine and higher in cows milk than human breast milk. Short term this may help us to feel relaxed but once the effects wear off, our anxiety and stress levels are increased.
Dairy products are also known to disrupt sleep patterns and why we experience strange dreams after consuming milk or cheese.
Thankfully there are now plenty of great-tasting alternatives to animal milk and cheese available in most supermarkets and health food stores.
Oat milk especially is a nice way to relax and can aid restful sleep.
Bad Fats & Fried Foods
We know that good fats and oils are important for good mental health and brain development.
Bad fats appear to increase anxiety and stress levels as they slow down the body, reduce energy levels, adding extra strain to the digestive system, increase inflammation and reduce levels of nutrition.
Increasing your intake of good fats is known to help with anxiety and stress. These can be found from healthy nuts, flaxseed/linseed, chia seed and nicely from good consumption of fruit and vegetables.
Reducing your unhealthy fats and fried foods can only be helpful for your mental health. Remove fried foods, fatty meats, dairy products, processed oils, cooked nuts, junk foods, processed foods, and other high-fat foods as much as you can.
Fruit juices are marketed as a healthy option but as the fiber has been removed, they are very high in sugar. Often extra sugar is added back to the juice when the rehydrated the juice before bottling.
The high levels of sugar cause issues for those with anxiety and stress issues and a better option is to use freshly made smoothies. Smoothies do contain the full fruit including the useful fiber and water and a much healthier option.
Almost everyone is aware that too much salt pushes up our blood pressure, causes inflammation in the gut which can increase anxiety and stress levels quickly.
The first thing to do is to remove the usual white table salt from our diet as this is known to be very toxic to the body.
Pink or grey salts have not been processed to the same levels as white salt and are a better alternative as they do include some nutrients.
The body does need salt but adequate amounts can naturally be obtained from fruit and vegetables.
Processed meats are high in saturated fats, salt and other additives that put a major strain on our digestive system. If you are wanting to resolve your anxiety and stress levels removing these from your diet is a major step forward, helping your health in other areas too.
Move to lean, unprocessed meats and also look at the growing range of healthy, plant-based foods appearing in your supermarket.
Food Intolerances & Sensitivity
As part of our work to help clients reduce and remove anxiety and stress issues, we often suggest a full food sensitivity test.
Many of the foods listed above can cause digestive issues. However, sometimes innocent-looking foods can also cause digestive problems and we know these can cause or increase anxiety and stress problems.
Once a food sensitivity test has been completed we can look at the results, see which foods need to be removed for good and which may need to be avoided for a shorter period of time.
Restoring gut flora is sometimes an important step in resolving anxiety problems as recent studies are showing major links between poor gut health and mental health issues.
As we have mentioned gut health and the link to mental health, it is also worth looking at candida problems.
Candida is a natural fungus that lives in the gut and is a useful part of our digestive system.
Candida is meant to live in partnership with our good bacteria. If the good bacteria are low or depleted, the candida takes over and causes a number of serious health problems.
Symptoms of candida issues include digestive disorders, bloating, wind, constipation, irregular bowel movements, regular colds, emotional issues, irritability, athletes’ foot, thrush, toenail fungal infections, itching, dandruff and more.
Again, once clients resolve candida issues we often see a noticeable improvement in anxiety and stress issues.
Anxiety & Stress – Foods To Avoid
For some people, this list may be most of the foods that you eat.
Often we find clients need a little coaching support, advice and help to change their diet. Once they learn there are thousands of new delicious foods to experience life becomes much easier.
The following article gives you some advice on Foods That Help Anxiety & Stress.
Remember to make changes step by step and that we are here if you need some help.
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Very simply this allows you to explain you issues, ask any questions and then we can put a plan in place to help you deal with your anxiety and stress problems.
Watch this video to see what NHS Dr Andrew says about Anxiety and stress help from Newcastle Hypnotherapy.