Anxiety: 5 Ways Your Diet Could Be Causing Your Symptoms

Anxiety can produce a wide range of distressing symptoms, including chest pains, breathlessness and tingling in the fingers. Many of these symptoms can be caused or made worse by your diet or the food you eat. Here are five ways your diet could be causing or making your symptoms worse.


Blood Sugar Fluctuations

Levels of sugar in the blood fluctuate naturally, but sudden changes in blood sugar can cause a range of symptoms, including anxiety, lightheadedness and headaches. Eating a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike and fall regularly, aggravating your anxiety and increasing the severity of symptoms.


Overuse of Stimulants

Stimulants trigger the release of hormones that can cause anxiety, restlessness, hyperventilation and other symptoms. Common stimulants include nicotine and caffeine, which can be found in many different products, including coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and some diet pills. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications also contain stimulants.


Nutritional Deficiencies

Eating a balanced diet is crucial for mental health. Nutritional deficiencies can cause anxiety and anxiety-like symptoms. Iron deficiency can lead to dizziness, breathlessness, fatigue and a worsening of anxiety. Magnesium deficiency is linked to an increased risk of anxiety, depression and migraines. Deficiency of one or more B vitamins can also cause anxious feelings. Nutritional deficiencies can be caused by poor or restrictive diets, as well as some health conditions.


Food Intolerances

Food intolerances can trigger anxiety and associated symptoms, including fatigue, muscle weakness and shortness of breath. Keeping a food diary can help to identify problem foods, as you can use your diary to look for patterns. However, the symptoms of food intolerance may not appear for several hours, or sometimes even a couple of days, after eating the food. Therefore, it’s usually best to work with a nutritionist or other health professional when trying to identify reactions to food.


Excess Gas Production

Excess or trapped gas can restrict your breathing, causing your breath to become shallow or faster. This can lead to hyperventilation, a well-known cause of anxiety and panic attacks. Reducing your intake of gas-producing foods, such as garlic, onions and wheat may help to ease your symptoms. Indigestion and digestive disorders, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), can also trigger anxiety symptoms in some people.


Diet can have a major impact on anxiety symptoms. Blood sugar fluctuations, overuse of stimulants, nutritional deficiencies, food intolerances and excess gas production can all cause or make anxiety symptoms worse. Making some simple changes to your diet could greatly improve your symptoms and help to reduce your anxiety.