Our diet can play an important role in helping anxiety. The causes of anxiety and stress are complex. Some people do not eat properly due to their symptoms, a feeling of nausea or because of the effects of drugs. Some people comfort eats with a lot of sugary snacks. When we are anxious it may feel like we have no energy. This is because when anxious our body has to work extremely hard so we need to provide as much energy as we can; we do this by the food we eat.
It is commonly known that a poor diet can lead to, or increase anxiety symptoms. These may include light-headedness, headaches, digestive problems, faintness, jelly legs, headaches and feeling panicky. These are often related to low blood pressure. We can perhaps recognize that feeling before we have a panic attack and we have the urge to eat something sweet. What the body is trying to tell us s that our blood sugar levels have fallen. By eating a little put often will, help us with anxiety, by keeping our blood sugar levels constant throughout the day.
However, there is a time when body sugar levels fluctuate in women and that is during or near monthly menstruation. Even allowing for this, eating regularly, as described above, will certainly help to reduce the effects at this time.
This is one of the reasons why we should eat breakfast. We may have been asleep in bed for 7 or 8 hours so when we first get up our blood sugar levels will be low. It takes about 20 minutes for our body to adjust after eating breakfast. If we rush out without having anything to eat by mid morning our body can have that panicky feeling. It is best to eat food that contains protein and complex carbohydrates; this will keep the blood sugar levels constant. If we eat refined carbohydrates they are quickly absorbed. The blood levels go up quite quickly but unfortunately this also lowers the blood sugar levels rapidly. This constant up and down affect will not be good for our mood or anxiety. Changing our diet can greatly help anxiety.
Substances that Aggravate Anxiety
Of all the dietary factors that can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks, caffeine is the most notorious. Many people find that they feel calmer and sleep better after they have reduced their caffeine consumption. Caffeine increases the level of the neuro-transmitter norepinephrine in the brain, causing you to feel alert and awake. It also produces the very same physiological arousal response that is triggered when you are subjected to stress- increased sympathetic nervous system activity and a release of adrenaline.
Too much caffeine can keep you in a chronically tense, aroused condition, leaving you more vulnerable to generalized anxiety as well as panic attacks. Caffeine further contributes to stress by causing a depletion of vitamin B1 (thiamine) which is one of the so-called anti-stress vitamins.
Caffeine is contained not only in coffee, but also in many types of tea, cola, chocolate and cocoa. If you decide to cut down on your caffeine intake, it is better to reduce slowly so as to avoid too many withdrawal symptoms. It is possible to substitute decaffeinated tea and coffee, which have a lower rate of caffeine.
Avoid “sugary” snacks and “fizzy” drinks; water is by far the best thing to drink. Take a little bottle of water around with you as a dry throat tends to make you feel anxious and a little sip will help to alleviate this worry. Use decaffeinated coffee and tea. Why put chemicals into your body, they are stimulants, which you don’t need. Try and cut out smoking, contrary to popular belief nicotine is a stimulant and can make anxiety worse. Try to avoid using alcohol as a means of coping with anxiety. In the short term it may “get you through” but it is a dangerous path to tread and could lead to two problems instead of one. Tranquillizers and anti-depressants do have a “short term” role to play but are not the answer to the problem as they only mask the symptoms and in the long run you have got to tackle the root cause that is causing your anxiety.
Fresh Drinking Water
Water is good for us but often we don’t drink enough. To keep our body running efficiently many parts of our system, rely on water. It transports hormones, chemical messengers and nutrients to vital organs of the body.
We can be dehydrated without being aware of this. Most of us fall short of consuming the recommended amount of water. We often interpret being thirsty as a sign of hunger. When we are dehydrated we can on a subconscious level send the body signals which are communicated as a threat to survival. This can make us feel anxious and causes some of our symptoms.
Exercise is good for all of us. It benefits us in lots of ways. For example it is helps to protect us against heart disease; it helps the body work better. It also helps anxiety and depression. When anxious the body releases adrenalin into our blood stream. We are not in danger so the adrenalin isn’t used up and is in the body with nowhere to go. Exercise helps burn off the adrenalin and this helps reduce anxiety and the symptoms. Exercise also encourages the production of endorphins which helps lift our mood and makes us feel good.
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