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Health and Fitness News

Foods for Mental Health

Mood disorders such as anxiety or depression can make you feel helpless and hopeless. Negative thoughts plague you. You may wonder if you’ll ever feel normal again. If you’ll ever enjoy a carefree moment.
Whether you deal with a mood disorder or you have a loved one who does, you’re likely willing to try anything to take the anxious or sad thoughts away. In many cases, the best treatment is often a combination of medication and therapy. However, those aren’t the only tools at your disposal. Do-it-yourself diet changes can go a long way in reducing symptoms.

That’s right! The foods you eat can improve your mental health. They can also make your depression or anxiety worse. Want to lessen your symptoms and mood fluctuations? You can get started by avoiding these five foods and drinks.

#1: Artificial Sweeteners

Studies show that the artificial sweetener aspartame affects brain functioning. How? Consuming aspartame increases the presence of compounds in the brain. In particular, it increases compounds that hinder the production of neurotransmitters that regulate your mood and mental health. As a result, you can expect increased anxiety and depression, along with a bad mood after eating artificial sweeteners.

Cutting aspartame out will give your mood a boost, while helping you trim your waistline. Aspartame is found in yogurt, sugar-free desserts, diet sodas, low-calorie fruit juice, light salad dressings, and gum.

#2: Added Sugar

While artificial sweeteners aren’t safe, neither is the real deal. Added sugar is a major offender when it comes to anxiety. Every time you chomp on sugar, your blood sugar goes on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. These rising and falling levels affect your energy and your mood. A blood sugar crash can lead to anxiety, irritability, and feelings of depression.

Watch out, because added sugar hangs out in many processed foods. Avoid the obvious such as candy, cookies, cakes, sodas, and other sugar-sweetened beverages. But beware! The sweet stuff also hides out in unexpected places. From breakfast cereals, muffins, and yogurt to condiments and salad dressings, added sugar is everywhere your taste buds want to be.

#3: Caffeine

You may be addicted to your morning cup of coffee or energy drink, but caffeine may trigger anxiety or depression. The effect is particularly strong if you’re not used to caffeine.

Anxiety already makes you feel nervous and on edge. Caffeine can make that worse. Struggle to sleep because of anxiety or depression? Caffeine can make that worse as well. And low serotonin levels contribute to depression. Once again, caffeine can make that worse.

#4: Alcohol

Despite what you may believe, alcohol interferes with your sleep. A lack of sleep exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression. Too much sleep, on the other hand, can also worsen depression.

As an added detriment, alcohol affects the level of serotonin in your brain. When this gets out of whack, your mental state plummets.

#5: Refined Carbs

Whole grains are an important part of a nutritious diet. Unfortunately, many grains are refined, meaning their fiber and nutrients have been removed. A diet high in refined carbs is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, as well as anxiety and depression.

Examples of refined carbs include white breads, pasta, white rice, many cereals, and processed snack foods. Similar to added sugar, refined carbs are digested quickly, leading to a spike in blood sugar and a following crash. These fluctuations aren’t helpful for those who deal with anxiety and depression.