Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Healthy Diet to Beat Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety. In fact, being unable

to do so can be a sign of a serious psychological

problem. In our hazardous world, anxiety is a

strategy the body uses to help the mind recognize

danger and keep well out of its way. As with most

mental illnesses, it's not the presence of anxiety

alone that creates problems. It is more about how

severe it is and how much it gets in one’s way of

life or quality of living.
Most people feel anxious at some time in their lives.

However, only about five per cent of people

experience severe anxiety and rarely seek

professional help. Anxiety is a mixture of physical

and mental symptoms. They are part of what

psychologists call the “fight or flight” response.

When the body is under threat it automatically

prepares either to defend itself or run.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one

deal with a tense situation in the office, study

harder for an exam, or remain focused on an important

speech. In general, it helps one cope with the tasks

and demands of everyday life. But when anxiety

becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday

situations, it can become a disabling disorder.
Fortunately, effective treatments for anxiety

disorders are available, and research is yielding new

and improved therapies that can help most people with

anxiety disorders lead productive and fulfilling

However, studies have shown that having a healthy

diet may reduce signs and symptoms of anxiety.

Although food can't cure an anxiety disorder,

consider some diet changes and that would benefit a

severely anxious person:
• Avoid or limit caffeine intake as much as

possible. Caffeine is present in many soft drinks,

not just in tea and coffee and it can set up its own

vicious cycle. It can speed up heart rate and disrupt

sleep --- which later on become prevailing signs of

anxiety. Trying to overcome tiredness by drinking

more caffeine only makes the long-term problem worse.
• Avoid too much alcohol. Similarly, alcohol

can worsen the symptoms of anxiety, and disrupt

sleep. Many people reach for a drink to calm their

nerves, but the consequences of overindulgence can

outweigh the benefits of initial relaxation. For

some, a hangover, insomnia, and dehydration make one

feel worse than before one had a drink. In excessive

amounts, alcohol can actually act as a depressant,

making the drinker feel sluggish or more anxious.

Alcohol, like a simple sugar, is rapidly absorbed by

the body. Like other sugars, alcohol increases

hypoglycemia symptoms. It also causes mood swings.

• Eat complex carbohydrates, also known as

carbs. During anxious times, turn to comforting

carbs. These foods act as a mild tranquilizer by

increasing the amount of serotonin, a calming

neurotransmitter in the brain. Complex carbs such as

potatoes, wholewheat bread, and pasta take longer to

digest than sugary simple carbs like white bread.

That way, one can stay fuller longer and blood sugar

is likely to stay steady, eliminating stress and

• Be sure to drink eight or more glasses of

water a day. Dehydration can lead to fatigue,

headaches and stress. One should be well-hydrated and

drinking lots of water a day can decrease symptoms of

• Take multivitamins and mineral supplements. B

vitamins, whose role is to unlock the energy in food,

are crucial. Vitamin B-6 helps manufacture serotonin

in the brain. Choose a daily supplement that supplies

100 per cent of the daily recommendation of all

vitamins and minerals.
Although tension and daily stresses are unavoidable,

one can relieve tension and manage stress and anxiety

better by watching out for what one eats and what one

does not eat. Remember that a healthy body and a

healthy mind are often one and the same thing.

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