It’s common to feel anxious or irritated if you’re hungry. Low blood sugar rushing, dehydration and a rumbling tummy make everyone a little less pleasant than normal.
But if you’ve ever felt angry or anxious after you eat, it could mean your body is reacting negatively to what you ate.
Several common foods and additives are known to promote anxiety, depression, and even anger. Which one could be causing your after-meal mood swing?
The 8 Foods That Cause Anxiety and Anger
Sugar is one of the most common causes of irritation after eating. In one survey of 200 people, 80% said sugar was a considerable “stressor” on their mental health. Stabilizing your blood sugar can greatly benefit your health in the long run… and benefit your moods in the nearer future.
One study of 95 people showed that doses up to 400mg of caffeine increased anxiousness, tenseness and nervousness. Of course, if you’ve ever been on the wrong end of a caffeine crash, you don’t need science to tell you how it makes you jittery and irritable.
Casein is the major component in mammalian milk – especially cow’s milk. It has been causally related to multiple mood disorders, including bipolar and autism, because of the inflammation and allergic reactions it causes.
Aspartame is 50% phenylalaline – a chemical defined as a neurotoxin by the Suicide and Mental Health Association. Neurotoxins are responsible for directly impeding the release of neurotransmitters – specifically the “feel good” brain chemical serotonin. Depleted levels of serotonin can leave you feeling depressed. (Scientists have known about this interaction since 1987!)
Another study also showed that aspartame impaired memory performance and increased oxidative stress on the brain – something else that could get you frustrated pretty easily.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a known “excitotoxin,” meaning it causes brain cells to fire so rapidly they burn themselves out within hours of exposure. A bad headache is only one symptom of this toxic flavoring agent. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, one of the foremost experts on excitotoxins, “Exposure to excitotoxins could produce a whole array… of emotional problems including episodic anger and sexual psycho-pathology.”
Even if you don’t have Celiac disease or a diagnosed gluten intolerance, this sneaky little protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt can be a serious mood buster. According to Danna Korn, author of Living Gluten-Free for Dummies, “Gluten is sometimes behind the scenes wreaking havoc on behavior and moods. ‘Fuzzy brain’ or an inability to concentrate . . . irritability and lack of motivation can be caused by gluten.”
How to Combat Anger and Anxiety Quickly and Naturally
Eat Foods That Contain L-Tryptophan
One of the many reasons we feel so good around the holidays is because the foods we eat (in heftier-than-normal portions) are high in l-tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that produces the neurotransmitters melatonin (the one that makes you sleepy) and serotonin (the one that makes you feel good.)
- Meat. Game meats like elk, buffalo and caribou have the highest concentration of l-tryptophan, with 400-750mg per 200 calorie serving. Turkey and chicken offer between 400 and 500mg while beef contains 270 – 430mg per 200 calories.
- Fish. Tuna has the highest concentration with 380mg in a 4oz serving. Also high on the trypto-scale are salmon, halibut, shrimp, cod and sardines between 250 and 350mg per 4oz serving.
You can also find supplements with tryptophan or 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan). Speaking of supplements…
Try These Supplements
There are a variety of supplements available that can increase your sense of “feeling good” naturally. These can help boost your mood, increasing your overall sense of wellbeing and lifting your energy.
- GABA, the neurotransmitter responsible for alert relaxation, can help you “get back in the zone” after a lunch break.
- L-Theanine. You can also get your GABA and l-theanine by drinking more tea – also helpful if you’re trying to reduce your caffeine intake but still need a jump in the morning.
- Omega-3s. Your brain and nervous system are mostly made up of fat, and therefore need healthy fats to function properly – including mood regulation. Omega-3s, especially EPA, have been shown to reduce pessimism, feelings of sadness, inability to work, sleeplessness and low libido by up to 50%. You can also get more EPA by increasing the amount of seafood, nuts and leafy greens in your diet.
- Vitamin B. If you’ve taken certain “natural energy shots,” you know that complexes of vitamin B and single supplements of B12 are especially helpful for boosting mood, energy and focus. A recent study agreed – B vitamins “improve mood symptoms and mental health quality of life in adults with depression.”
Trigger Point Therapy
When you’re angry or anxious, your entire body is affected. Your muscles tighten and shorten as part of the stress response. These overworked muscles often develop miniature knots in the muscle fibers… and refuse to release.
Known as trigger points, these muscle knots are notorious for referred pain – meaning they can cause pain in an area of your body distant from the actual trigger point. Research shows trigger points may be the primary cause of actual pain 75% of the time – and a factor in virtually every painful condition.
Trigger points were discovered to be a major contributor to John F. Kennedy’s chronic back pain – until he found relief by treating the trigger points. In fact, he credited their relief to his ability to run for President.
Relieving trigger points used to mean expensive visits to a knowledgeable clinical practitioner or specially trained masseuse. But now you can find and relieve your own hidden trigger points throughout your body… thanks to a simple system you can find right here at the Healthy Back Institute.
I personally use and recommend the Trigger Point Therapy Self-Treatment System. It’s so easy to use, you literally get relief just by lying down, making it one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to treat stress- and emotion-related pain.
Korn D. How Gluten Affects Behavior. For Dummies: The Essentials of Gluten Sensitivity.
Mateljan G. Tryptophan. The World’s Healthiest Foods. p. 782-3. 2007.
Loke WH. Effects of caffeine on mood and memory. Physiology & Behavior. 1988;44(3):367-72.
Lawson W. Omega-3s for Boosting Mood. Psychology Today. 2007 Aug. 16.
Abdel-Salam OM. Studies on the effects of aspartame on memory and oxidative stress in brain of mice. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. 2012 Dec;16(15):2092-101.
Sharma RP. Effects of repeated doses of aspartame on serotonin and its metabolite in various regions of the mouse brain. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1987 Aug;25(8):565-8.
Severance EG. Immune activation by casein dietary antigens in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder. 2010 Dec;12(8):834-42.
How Food Benefits Mood. BBC News: Health. 2002 Sep. 17.
Blaylock RL. Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills. p.89. 1996.
Lewis JE. The effect of methylated vitamin B complex on depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in adults with depression. ISRN Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 21;2013:621453.
Bagg JE. The President’s Physician. Texas Heart Institute Journal. 2003; 30(1): 1–2.
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