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Across the globe, anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health issues. Anxiety has long-term health effects, notably in terms of heart health, in addition to its immediate effects on mood and quality of life. The purpose of this article is to examine the connections between anxiety, heart health, and the management of these problems through physical activity and a balanced diet.
Anxiety and Common Consequences
Anxiety is different from brief worry or dread. These symptoms persist and may even worsen over time for those who have anxiety problems. These emotions can affect relationships, work performance, and daily tasks. Although symptoms might vary greatly, they frequently involve emotions like fear, dread, and panic as well as physical signs like exhaustion, disturbed sleep, and difficulty focusing.
Heart Health and Anxiety
Anxiety disorders may be linked to cardiac ailments, according to an increasing number of research. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are constantly released in response to persistent anxiety. Your heart rate and blood pressure may rise as a result of these hormones, increasing the need for oxygen in the heart. Your heart’s arteries may get inflamed and suffer various effects as a result over time.
Unhealthy habits might develop as a result of anxiety. Smoking, binge drinking, and a sedentary lifestyle are more common in those with anxiety disorders, which raises the risk of heart disease.
The Relationship Between Exercise, Healthy Diet, and Mental Health
There is good news despite the fact that the connection between anxiety and heart health may seem frightening. In addition to helping manage anxiety disorders, exercise, and a good diet can also aid with heart health.
Endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers, are released when you exercise, which has been proven to have a good impact on mood. Additionally, regular exercise can enhance calm, sleep, and confidence.
Additionally, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support mental wellness. Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and probiotics are a few nutrients that have been reported to improve mood and anxiety levels.
Empirical Evidence: The SMILE Study
Researchers at Deakin University in Australia conducted the SMILE (Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) study, which offers concrete proof of the beneficial effects of food and exercise on mental health. This 12-week randomized controlled experiment looked at how food changes might help with depressive symptoms (which frequently co-occur with anxiety).o
Two sets of study participants were created, with ratings on depression ranging from moderate to high. The other group received dietary help, where they were urged to follow a healthy diet, while the first group received social support. According to the study, those who participated in the dietary assistance group considerably improved their depression levels.
Although this study focused on depression specifically, the substantial co-occurrence rate of anxiety and depression suggests that anxiety symptoms may also experience similar improvements.
Heart health and general well-being can be greatly impacted by anxiety disorders. However, lifestyle changes like regular exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and benefit heart health. By forming these habits, one can have a good impact on their heart and mind health, starting a positive cycle of health and wellbeing.
Written by: Dr Michael MacDonald MB ChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP (UK), MD (Research), FESC (Europe). Dr MacDonald was trained in the UK and is a senior Consultant Cardiologist.