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Anxiety and diet: Foods to avoid during stress


Introduction to anxiety:

Anxiety is a common mental health condition characterized by excessive worry, fear, and nervousness. It can have a significant impact on people’s daily life. While there are various factors that contribute to anxiety, including genetics and life experiences, diet plays a crucial role in managing and mitigating anxiety symptoms.

Moreover, stress is a universal and normal human emotion experienced by people of all ages. It is a natural response to stress, danger, or unfamiliar situations. These emotional response triggers a cascade of physiological reactions designed to help people respond to threats, often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. To know more on stress and its effects on health, read this article,

However, when anxiety become chronic or overwhelming, it can develop into mental health condition, known as an anxiety disorder.

The Gut-brain connection:

The gut brain connection often referred to as the gut-brain axis is a burgeoning field of research that has provided profound insights into the complex relationship between our gastrointestinal system and our central nervous system.

This connection is not only crucial for our physical health, but has a significant impact on our mental well-being, especially in anxiety. The gut-brain axis is a two-way communication system that links the central nervous system (CNS) with the enteric nervous system (ENS), often described as the “second brain” due to its complexity.

This connection is facilitated by Vegas nerve, and a range of biochemical signaling pathways, including hormones, neurotransmitters, and immune system messengers.

Foods to avoid during stress:

  • Sugar and refined carbohydrates:

Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates cause rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. These fluctuations can lead to irritability and increased feeling of anxiety. For example, Avoid candy, sugary snacks, and white bread.

  • Caffeine:

Caffeine is found in coffee tea, energy drinks and many sodas. While moderate caffeine consumption can provide temporary energy boost, excessive caffeine intake can lead to increased heart rate, jitters and exacerbate feelings of anxiety and restlessness.

  • Alcohol:

Alcohol is a depressant and that can initially include feeling of relaxation. However, as the body metabolizes alcohol, it can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to increased anxiety and exacerbating symptoms.

  • Highly processed foods:

Processed foods often contain artificial additives, preservatives, and trans fats, which can negatively affect brain function and mood. Use Whole natural foods, whenever possible.

  • Sodium:

High sodium foods such as salty snacks and processed meat can lead to increased blood pressure and fluid retention. These physical symptoms can contribute to a sense of unease and discomfort.

  • Fried foods:

Foods that are deep fried or high in unhealthy fats can lead to inflammation in the body, which is linked to increased anxiety. Additionally, the comfort of overindulging in such foods can lead to stress.

  • Dairy products:

Some people are sensitive to dairy and may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, which can exacerbate anxiety. Consider dairy alternatives like almond and soya milk.

  • Artificial sweeteners:

Artificial sweeteners, often found in diet sodas and sugar free products. They can disrupt the gut microbiome, potentially impacting mood, and anxiety.

  • Gluten:

For people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, consuming gluten can lead to gastrointestinal distress, which is responsible to increase anxiety and mood disturbances.

  •   Fast food:

Fast food is typically high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar. Regular consumption can negatively affect overall health and wellbeing.


Incorporating a balanced and wholesome diet can be an important part of managing stress. While avoiding the mentioned food during times of stress can be beneficial.

It is essential to focus on consuming a variety of nutrient rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Finally, A healthy diet combined with other strategies like regular exercise, and stress management techniques can help people better cope with anxiety. To know more on mental health, read my latest book, the magical ways for sparkling lifestyle.

Dr.Hetal Patel


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