5 Foods That Can Cause Anxiety and Insomnia

  • Post last modified:August 10, 2021
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Some foods may negatively impact your nervous systems and cause anxiety and insomnia, such as processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, or trans fat.

5 Foods That Can Cause Anxiety and Insomnia

Have you ever experienced a situation where you cannot fall asleep because of tension or anxiety? Actually, this phenomenon is very common.

Around the world, the prevalence of anxiety disorders ranges from 2.5% to 7%. In 2017, an estimated 284 million people worldwide suffer from anxiety disorders, making it the most common mental health or neurodevelopmental disorder. [*]

Among these people, 63% (179 million) are women and approximately 105 million are men.

If you’ve suffered from chronic stress or anxiety for a long time, you may spend a lot of time and energy dealing with or treating related health issues. This can seriously affect your quality of life.

Unfortunately,  many people use food as a tool to relieve nervous tension and anxiety. This in turn can lead to continuous weight gain and further deterioration of your health.

In fact, certain foods you eat every day may cause anxiety and insomnia. If you want to manage or reverse your symptoms, you need to pay close attention to the ingredients in your menu. 

The foods listed below can be chemical triggers for anyone. If you eat them uncontrollably, they may unknowingly affect your central nervous system. 

Whether you have anxiety or insomnia, you should stay away from these foods.

5 Foods or Substances That Can Cause Anxiety:

1. Caffeine

Millions of people start their day with a cup of coffee. 

Coffee can be beneficial for you if you drink it in moderation. However, excessive caffeine is one of the main causes of insomnia and many emotional problems.

In a new study of patients with panic disorder, caffeine increased the levels of stress hormones in all participants. It also caused panic attacks in about half of them.

Research has also found that high levels of caffeine can not only increase anxiety and nervousness but also reduce the level of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the body, which can lead to depression.

In addition, caffeine blocks sleep-promoting adenosine receptors in your brain, thereby keeping you awake. Even after 5 hours of drinking coffee, 50% of the caffeine will remain in your blood and affect your sleep. [*]

2. Alcoholic beverages

You may think that drinking alcohol will relax you and help you fall asleep more easily. However, the reality is just the opposite.

Alcohol changes the levels of serotonin and neurotransmitters in your brain, which can increase anxiety. 

Especially if you’ve consumed alcohol for a long time. Then, when you don’t get enough alcohol, you may feel more anxious.

The rate of alcohol metabolism depends on age, gender, genetics, and some other factors. On average, it takes two hours for the alcohol in each “alcoholic beverage” (liquor, beer, or wine) to be cleared from your bloodstream.

Furthermore, the alcohol in your body can interfere with your sleep in the middle of the night, causing restlessness or nightmares.

3. Fermented, pickled, and smoked foods (such as sauerkraut, sausage, or cheese)

We all know that fermented foods can increase the probiotics in your intestines, which are good for your digestive system. However, during the fermentation process, bacteria break down proteins into tiny molecules called biogenic amines.

The main biogenic amine found in fermented, pickled, and smoked foods is “histamine”.

Histamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that can aggravate the toxicity of your nervous system. It can cause anxiety and insomnia in susceptible people, partly because it can increase adrenaline levels. [*]

4. Refined carbohydrates (including sugar and processed foods)

Almost all processed foods contain added sugars. Added sugars can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate up and down like a roller coaster. Then your energy can become unstable.

Blood sugar collapse can also cause anxiety symptoms such as mood changes, palpitation, inattention, and fatigue.

Refined carbohydrates have only empty calories because of the removal of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber during processing. As a result, your body can quickly digest carbs stimulating blood sugar levels to soar.

In order to control blood sugar, the pancreas secretes large amounts of insulin. Meanwhile, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline flood in, to prevent your blood sugar from collapsing.

However, the increase in adrenaline can cause panic symptoms in sensitive people, such as sweating, dizziness, and palpitations. These feelings are often mistaken for “hypoglycemia”, even if their blood sugar may not be lower than normal in most cases. [*]


5. High-sodium foods

In the past few decades, the Nutrition Society has been recommending low-fat diets. Sadly, most non-fat foods are actually high in sugar and/or sodium.

In recent years, many studies have concluded that too much sodium in the diet can have a negative impact on the human nervous system, causing tension, fatigue and damage to the immune system. [*]

Furthermore, eating too much high-salt food can lead to increased blood pressure, water retention, abdominal distension and weight gain.

What Can You Eat To Reduce Anxiety?

Hormonal imbalance can lead to many health problems, especially when your adrenal cortex is dysfunctional. You may experience symptoms such as convulsions, over-excitement, nervousness or anxiety.

If this imbalance is not corrected in time, it can lead to severe insomnia, increased abdominal fat and obesity, etc.. 

Fortunately, changing both your lifestyle and eating habits can help relieve anxiety and reduce stress.

In your daily diet, eating more vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and lean protein can help. Especially fish, which is very good for your brain health.

You should also gradually reduce the foods that are prone to anxiety and replace them with the following foods:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • fatty fish
  • lean meat
  • eggs
  • avocados
  • berries
  • green leafy vegetables
  • dark chocolate
  • turmeric
  • cinnamon
  • green tea

In addition, you can take some adrenal and cortisol regulators to relieve anxiety. For example, Adrenal & Cortisol Support is recommended by Dr. Berg, a chiropractor and health educator who is an expert in Healthy Keto™ and intermittent fasting.

This popular supplement contains a variety of all-natural vitamins, herbs and minerals which balance healthy stress adrenal hormones like cortisol. It helps keep you calm, strong and energetic. It can also improve your concentration and helps your sleep while reducing your dependence on caffeine,

Dr.Berg Adrenal Cortisol Support


A healthy and nutritious diet can provide sufficient energy for your brain and body.

Foods that contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, vitamins and minerals can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

It’s best to stay away from foods that may have a negative impact on your nervous systems, such as processed foods high in sugar, high in salt or trans fatty food. These can cause anxiety and insomnia. 

In addition, excessive caffeine and alcohol are also bad for the brain.

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