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It is common knowledge that what we consume has an impact on our physical health. It may not be as well known that there are some strong connections between our dietary habits and our mental health, particularly when it comes to experiencing anxiety and depression. What you eat has a significant impact on how you feel. It can be useful to know which foods have been connected to a rise in anxiety and depression if you’re not feeling your best. Some of them—like tomatoes—might surprise you, but others—like artificial sweeteners—are more widely known to be problematic.

Fast Food

Perhaps eating fast food doesn’t seem like such a huge problem. After all, while you’re on the run, it’s affordable and easy. Fast food’s detrimental impacts on your physical and mental health, however, may not make the extra expense worthwhile.

Perhaps eating fast food doesn’t seem like such a huge problem. After all, while you’re on the run, it’s affordable and easy. Fast food’s detrimental impacts on your physical and mental health, however, may not make the extra expense worthwhile.


Dairy is a good example of how different meals impact people differently. While some people claim that consuming dairy products had no negative effects on them, others claim that their anxiety, despair, or both increased within minutes.

Most likely, this is because 10% of adults have a lactose intolerance and even more have difficulties processing the casein in cow’s milk. Dairy products have been associated with both depression and anxiety due to their inflammatory properties.

Artificial Sweeteners

Some individuals believe that since sugar is “bad,” artificial sweeteners are a better alternative. That’s not always the case; in fact, artificial substances can seriously damage our emotional state.

The most prevalent additive in goods like diet sodas, aspartame, prevents the body from producing serotonin. This may result in a variety of neurological conditions, such as melancholy, mood swings, and insomnia. In addition, the dyes present in many sweets are neurotoxins that might interfere with nervous system operation and exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

Wheat Bran

Wheat bran is frequently used in baked products and sprinkled into other foods like smoothies and granola. Nutritionists laud it for its high fiber content and delectable flavor. People with anxiety disorders shouldn’t use it, though. This is due to the high levels of phytic acid found in wheat bran, an antinutrient that prevents key mood-enhancing elements like zinc from being properly absorbed.

Some persons have been linked to anxiety and depression by zinc deficiency. It is possible to lessen the anti-nutrient by taking the extra step of soaking and boiling foods that contain wheat bran.


Although many of us reach for sweet foods in stressful situations, those foods are among the worst things someone anxious may eat. According to Brigitte Zeitlin, a certified dietician, “[s]ugar can make you feel more anxious because of how our bodies react to digesting them.

Your blood sugar will rise and fall faster after consuming sweet foods than it would after consuming non-high-sugar foods. You feel nervous because of the sudden spikes and drops, which occasionally even resemble panic attacks. Instead of nibbling on something sweet when you’re feeling stressed, try something else.

Fermented Foods

Many people turn to fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha for improved gut health. However, those who struggle with anxiety may want to avoid foods that have undergone fermentation.

Histamines are a result of the degradation of dietary proteins that occurs during fermentation and aging. Insensitive people may experience symptoms like a panic attacks from an overabundance of histamines. High histamine levels also lead to brain inflammation, which can heighten anxiety.


Too much coffee can have nasty side effects, as anyone who has ever experienced it can attest. However, a large body of data suggests that even small doses of coffee might heighten anxiety.

Since caffeine is a stimulant, it may not be good for someone who suffers from anxiety. Caffeine overuse triggers the “fight or flight” reaction, which exacerbates anxiety and may even result in a panic attack. Additionally, caffeine’s disruptive effects on sleep might have a severe impact on mood and mental health.

Nightshade Plants

The nightshade family of plants includes peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and goji berries. Many of these are things that are typically seen as healthy, yet they might have unfavorable impacts on sensitive people’s nervous systems.

These plants create glycoalkaloids, which are organic insecticides. Although they are meant to destroy predators like worms, they are hazardous to human cells as well! They prevent the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which can overstimulate the nervous system and cause anxiety. Glycoalkaloids from eating nightshades frequently might build up in the body and take five days to leave.


The central nervous system is in charge of several rather significant processes, including thinking, reasoning, understanding, and managing emotions and motor behavior.

Alcohol is a depressive, even though it may make you feel wonderful while you’re drinking it. It prevents your central nervous system from operating normally and can cause depressive symptoms after a bender. Alcohol also dehydrates you, disrupts your sleep, lowers your serotonin levels, and causes blood sugar swings, all of which are things you want to avoid if you’re feeling nervous.

High-Sodium Foods

A balanced diet and the maintenance of good health depend on salt, but too much of it can be harmful. Numerous well-known health issues, including weight gain, high blood pressure, and water retention, can be brought on by excessive sodium intake.

Sodium has been discovered to interfere with the neurological system, resulting in immune system deterioration, weariness, panic attacks, and anxiety. Furthermore, consuming too much salt can result in weight gain, which in some people can cause depression. When possible, avoid foods high in salt.

Processed Foods

Many of us have heard about the risks that processed foods—defined as anything that has been dried, baked, canned, frozen, or pasteurized—pose to our health. You might not be aware that eating processed meals has also been linked to depression.

The link is explained by integrative medicine specialist Maxine Barish-Wreden of the Sutter Medical Foundation. The dopamine centers in our brains, which are connected to pleasure and reward, are stimulated by many of the processed foods we consume, she added. Additionally, eating processed food raises inflammation, which is bad for mood.


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