Common physical symptoms of anxiety include sweaty palms, dizziness, diarrhoea or intestinal discomfort, a feeling of general fatigue, insomnia, and restlessness. One may also experience a speeding heartbeat, tightness in the chest, rapid breathing, or tingling in hands and feet.
Anxiety is caused due to certain physical malfunctions in brain, where it sends and receives false emergency signals. Adrenalin and noradrenaline are then released, causing the same physiological changes in the body, as would be experienced in a real dangerous situation. Some of the anxiety you experience may actually be due to particular stimulants you are consuming (excess of caffeine, nicotine or colas) or imbalances in particular vitamins and minerals. Consumption of refined sugars and starches (leading to fluctuations in levels of glucose in blood), diets deficient in protein or fat, and hyper active thyroid or adrenal glands may also contribute to anxiety.
Although food cannot correct anxiety, certain dietary modifications do help reduce the occurrence and alleviate the symptoms.Complex carbohydrates increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Have whole grains and whole pulses, starchy vegetables such as potato, yam and brown rice.
Eat frequent, small meals during the day, as keeping long gaps between meals or skipping meals can result in low blood sugar causing anxiety.
Calcium, magnesium, zinc, inositol, choline, and the amino acids tryptophan and taurine are among the “sedative” nutrients, hence maintaining adequate intake of these nutrients through milk, green leafy vegetables, eggs, sesame seeds, nuts, whole grains and soybean may prevent anxiety.
Limit or avoid alcohol as when it is metabolised by your body, it can cause symptoms similar to anxiety.
Excess of coffee, tea, cigarettes and coke provoke anxiety and also deplete the body of necessary vitamins and minerals. Instead try chamomile tea to sooth your senses.
Include fatty acids in your diet by eating nuts, fish and fish oil supplements as they greatly affect mood.
Surround yourself with positive people, thoughts and activities. It will keep you in a balanced state of mind.
Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist