We're spoilt for choice when it comes to the range and variety of drinks available. Like all food products some of these are nutritiously better than others and some should probably be avoided altogether.
For people inclined to suffer from anxiety or stress one of the big no-no's is caffeine. Everyone knows that the caffeine in coffee gives us a buzz, but to do this caffeine blocks the inhibitory effects of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA provides a natural counterbalance to excitatory neurotransmitters in that it acts like a brake to slow things down. Deficiencies of GABA are strongly associated with states of anxiety so anything that increases the problem increases anxiety.
Green tea is frequently promoted for its medicinal properties. There are claimed benefits for a wide range of conditions including high cholesterol, arthritis, various cancers, diabetes and liver complaints, to mention just a few. What's interesting about green tea in relation to anxiety is that opinions appear more polarized. For example, the University of Maryland Medical Center say, "people with heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders (particularly anxiety) should not take green tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid green tea." Similarly, an article by Kristi Monson, PharmD and Arthur Schoenstadt, MD, on the website MedTV, say green tea can cause serious side effects especially when taken at higher dosages. These side effects include high blood pressure, rapid breathing, anxiety and agitation and palpitations. However, a number of websites and some authoritative books on anxiety and depression extol the virtues of green tea as soothing and restorative. I think it's useful to point out that in its natural state green tea does contain caffeine and the longer it is allowed to infuse the greater the dose of caffeine is released. After five minutes, the dose of caffeine from green tea is around 30mg. Decaffeinated green tea is an option for those wishing to avoid caffeine altogether.
We can't talk about anxiety without mentioning alcohol. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant which means, in the short term at least and at low doses, it can relieve the symptoms of anxiety. But alcohol can also induce anxiety, particularly when consumed in higher amounts. Even people with no medical background of anxiety can experience panic, phobias and symptoms of generalized anxiety as a result of consuming alcohol. If the person stops drinking altogether it can take up to a month before the symptoms of anxiety begin to subside.
Soft and fizzy drinks often contain sugar, sugar substitutes and caffeine. Certain fizzy drinks are specifically marketed for alertness and these contain quite high levels of caffeine. Even a drink of hot chocolate contains some caffeine. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, sugar or additives, the golden rule is check the label. Food and drink sources have a big influence on mood but this is something we all have a level of control over.
"Green Tea." University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jul 2011. <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm>.
Monson, Kristi, and Arthur Schoenstadt. "Green Tea Side Effects." MEDTV. N.p., 03 03 2009. Web. 20 Jul 2011. <http://cancer.emedtv.com/green-tea/green-tea-side-effects.html>.
Published On: July 20, 2011