Anxious about relationships: 5 foods to combat anxiety

Norman Byrd's picture

How you view your relationship can affect your anxiety levels, but so can the foods you eat.

Feeling anxious? Stressed? Besides the regular day-to-day pressures, are there anxiety issues in the relationship with your partner? It isn't uncommon. And there are a few things you can do to alleviate some of the stressors, ameliorate the anxiety that plagues you. Besides exercise and yoga and formulating a less stressful lifestyle, there are also foods that you can eat that will help lessen anxiety.

Here's the problem: Anxiety has been linked to the production of cortisol, the so-called "stress hormone," and the conditions with which it is associated, like obesity, depression, and diabetes. A recent study conducted at Ohio State University College of Medicine revealed that relationship anxiety had an impact on not only cortisol levels in the blood but also on the production of T-cells, which are beneficial in warding off diseases.

Read: 5 Foods Rich In Zinc To Help Immune System, Fend Off Colds

The study consisted of 85 couples that had been married at least 12 years. The findings indicated that the higher the attachment anxiety level in an individual, the higher their cortisol level. Cortisol levels averaged 11 percent higher in those with increased attachment anxiety. Those that were more anxious also had between 11 and 20 percent less T-cells.

"The thing that was surprising was the magnitude of the difference, especially in the immune cells that we saw," research leader Lisa Jaremka told Huffington Post. "Some of the differences in the immune cell numbers, between the higher and the less high anxious attached people, were on the magnitude of what you'd see between obese and non-obese people."

This could prompt even more extensive health issues for those that find stress and anxiety as triggers to eat more, especially if those foods consumed are of the unhealthy variety.

The study follows previous research indicating that attachment anxiety can also lead to heart problems. In fact, those with attachment anxiety or insecure about their lovers are 50 percent more likely to have heart attacks or strokes.

About 20 percent of all people fall into the attachment anxiety category, according to psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine of Columbia University. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he described these individuals as often worrying about their relationships and questioning whether or not their partner loved them.

Still, there are things that can be done to lower the level of anxiety in one's life. Besides the aforementioned alterations in lifestyle to de-stress, not to mention couples relationship therapy and psychiatric strategies, there is also the pharmaceutical avenue of dealing with stressors and malignant anxiety. However, as medicines are often -- and should be -- the last recourse, a person suffering from anxiety can also alter their diet to lower their cortisol levels and help dampen anxieties.

The website Everyday Health lists five foods that help relieve anxiety:

1) Foods high in tryptophan (a precursor to the calmative neurotransmitter serotonin), like turkey, bananas, cheese, peanut butter, among others.
2) Foods rich in Vitamin B (or a Vitamin B supplement), like beef, pork, citrus fruit, eggs, and many others. Also helps strengthen the immune system.
3) Whole grains, which take longer for the body to break down and decrease blood sugar levels. Brown rice and whole wheat bread are good examples.
4) Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which include salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and other fatty fish.
5) Foods high in protein (prompt production of norepinephrine and dopamine for better cognitive functioning), like Greek yogurt, fish, eggs, soy, lentils and other foods.

Of course, there are foods to avoid as well if one wishes to keep anxiety levels at lower limits. Among them are caffeinated drinks, candy, alcohol, and processed foods.

(photo credit: Photos public, Wikimedia Commons)

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