A new study published in Nutrients found that soft drinks were associated with a higher level of anxiety than coffee or tea1. In the research, those who drank two or more cans of carbonated soda each day had more severe anxiety symptoms than those who drank less than one per week.
The participant pool included 1,025 people between the ages of 18 and 75 from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain, all of whom with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25 and 40 kg/m2 (clinically considered overweight or obese2) and had some symptoms of depression. Data was pulled from the European depression prevention trial MooDFOOD. More frequent soft drink consumption seemed to align with more severe anxiety symptoms.
“No relationship was found between coffee and tea consumption and the level of depression and anxiety in this specific population in any of the amounts of consumption analyzed,” researchers state. In other words, drinking coffee and tea wasn’t associated with anxiety in this particular study—but that doesn’t mean some people don’t feel anxious after drinking caffeine. (Your reaction to it is partially dictated by genetics3.)
Because this study was done on a smaller subgroup of individuals with specific BMIs and pre-existing depressive symptoms, the finding isn’t necessarily representative of the general population. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important or relevant. This study reinforces the idea that what we eat and drink has a major impact on our mental health, and it serves as another piece of the puzzle of how nutrition and mood disorders may be connected. As anxiety continues to surge worldwide, the more information we have on mitigating it naturally, the better.