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Have you ever felt anxious or jittery after eating or drinking? What you consume and how your brain functions are closely connected. If you are consuming the wrong foods, your brain can create a feeling of internal panic and can trigger a sensation that feels like anxiety. Certain foods, especially the highly processed ones that are high in sugar, increase inflammation in the body and can produce blood sugar spikes. These spikes and drops can affect our mood, exacerbate feelings of anxiety and feel almost like a panic attack in some cases.

Source: Dr Janelle Sinclair/YouTube

If you feel like anxiety is impacting your life, it might be worth it to consider what’s on your plate. Let’s take a look at ten foods and drinks that may trigger anxiousness:

1. Soda

Soda is all sugar and has no nutrition. Not to mention that its sugar content makes it very addictive, and plays with your brain’s incentive/reward system. This can eventually lead to anxiety and depressive moods. The high amount of caffeine in soda and diet soda can make anxiety worse, too.

2. Alcohol


According to Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE,” Although it may seem like it calms your nerves, alcohol can hurt hydration and sleep, both of which can trigger anxiety symptoms when suppressed.” Alcohol alters serotonin and neurotransmitter levels in the brain, exacerbating anxiety. You may become even more worried as the effects of alcohol wear off. If you suffer from anxiety, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether or drink in moderation.

3. Coffee

Our daily cup of coffee might be doing more harm than good when it comes to anxiety. “High levels of caffeine can not only increase anxiety and nervousness, but also decrease the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the body, causing a depressed mood,” explains Palinski-Wade. While caffeine is okay in moderation, to avoid anxiety limit the amount you consume in a day. Other popular products contain caffeine, such as tea, chocolate, and certain headache medications, and can contribute to increased anxiety.

4. Food Additives

Food additives such as Aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and food coloring/dyes (including Red #40 and Yellow #5) are neurotoxins that can disrupt normal nervous system function, leading to increased symptoms of anxiety. Artificial sweeteners in particular have been shown to block the production of serotonin. While direct links between artificial food additives and increased anxiety are still being researched, it is best to avoid these hidden artificial food additives if possible.

5. Processed Foods

While it’s no secret that processed meals could be detrimental to your general health, they may correlate with increased anxiety. They’re high in sodium and sugar and create an inflammatory response in the body. Studies have shown that inflammation has a direct effect on the brain and behavior. It can negatively affect the area of the brain responsible for anxiety.

6. Candy & Sweets

High sugar intake has been linked to many different health conditions. Some of these include obesity, high blood pressure, and tooth decay. While sugar may provide a temporary boost of energy, ultimately, your blood sugar levels will drop, causing fatigue, and a low mood. “Blood sugar levels can trigger the release of adrenalin and cortisol into the bloodstream, causing anxiety and sometimes even panic attacks.”

7. Hydrogenated Oil

Partially hydrogenated oil is an ingredient that is often hidden in packaged foods, and it may be negatively impacting mental health. While this process elongates the shelf life of packaged food products, it can wreak havoc on our brain health. High intake may negatively affect the ability to handle daily obstacles with normal levels of mental duress.

8. Fast Food

Junk food and fast food meals, such as pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, and fries, are low in nutritional content and difficult to digest. This can lead to bloating, acid reflux, and other gastrointestinal issues, all of which can produce symptoms that trigger anxiety.

9. High-Sodium Foods

It’s no secret that too much sodium harms the body’s neurological system. High levels of sodium cause fatigue and damage the immune system. It can also raise blood pressure and increases strain on the heart. This causes the body to release adrenalin and as a result, leads to anxiety. Instead, try opting for more natural forms of salt, such as pink Himalayan Salt.

10. Refined carbs

Refined carbohydrates are foods that have been stripped of much of their fiber and micronutrients. They have been linked with an increased risk of serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. One study also found that refined grains consumption was related to both anxiety and depression in women. Instead, opt for cereals and bread made from whole or sprouted wheat.

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