Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
Did you know that roughly 20% of the adult population in the United States suffers from anxiety? We know that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, but many people don’t actually seek out treatment, or the treatment they’re getting is not working. We know that people who have anxiety disorders are five times more likely to go to a doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for different psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety.
I’ve talked about Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) on a previous podcast, but today I want to focus in on foods. Many times, we think about the different stressors in our life that can exacerbate anxiety, but sometimes we don’t make that connection with what the foods are actually doing to us and how we can utilize foods to support a better overall mood. Today, I want to talk about foods and their associations with anxiety.
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How food impacts anxiety levels
What we do know is that there are certain foods that can definitely heighten one’s state of anxiety. We don’t have to search too far to look into the Standard American Diet and realize that those high sugary foods, bad fats and bad carbohydrates in particular are ways in which anxiety can really get taken to a whole new level. A lot of it comes down to hormonal regulation, neurotransmitter regulation and blood sugar regulation. We know that certain foods can actually reduce your anxiety. Through the National Institute of Mental Health, they have actually looked at specific groups of foods that can be very, very beneficial.
One thing that’s very important is to make sure that you are maintaining proper meals throughout your day. For many people, when they get these peaks and valleys in their blood sugar levels, this can start that cycle of making you feel a little more edgy and that anxiety can creep up fast. This is why having small meals and kind of continuously snacking throughout the day can be beneficial.
Foods that can be beneficial
We have to realize that it’s the right foods that you must be snacking on. You can’t be turning toward potato chips, junky protein bars, candy bars and things like that. We have to make sure that we are using foods that we know can actually be beneficial in terms of all of those different biochemical pathways.
We can look at things that are rich in B vitamins, like avocados, for example. Almonds have been shown to actually reduce stress and anxiety. Think about that. Maybe you start your day off with having a slice or two of avocado and maybe mid-way through your day, you have eight or 15 almonds, for example. These are just little tiny techniques that can start to create a significant amount of balance in your system.
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We know that antioxidants are incredibly important and they can also help to lessen those symptoms of anxiety. Things like blueberries, for example, can be very beneficial. A study that was published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry back in 2012 looked at subjects who had Generalized Anxiety Disorder along with depression. They found that after six weeks of taking high-antioxidants supplements, things that contained Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, their conditions improved significantly. That research team concluded that antioxidant supplementation could be a very useful supportive therapy for patients who have anxiety.
Tune into the full podcast episode to learn more about nutrients that can help you combat the symptoms of anxiety.
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What are your go-to anxiety reducing practices? Leave us a comment below to join the conversation!