Treat anxiety with Dietary & lifestyle changes
Lisa is a well-respected Sydney naturopath, author, mum and passionate foodie. Lisa has been practicing for 16 years out of her Rose Bay clinic called ‘Art of Healing’. Lisa is also the founder of Bodhi Organic Tea, an organic herbal tea company that makes beautiful unique tea blends, all naturopathically blended to help promote better health and wellbeing.
Lisa’s Bodhi Organic Teas are available in 6 unique flavours on our platform.
Lisa has shared with us her top 4 ways to beat anxiety naturally. READ TIPS 1 AND 2. Below are the next 2.
3. Anxiety Easing Dietary Changes
Caffeine is addictive because it boosts energy levels and makes them feel more alert. Caffeine is naturally found in certain leaves, seeds, and fruits. It stimulates your fight or flight response, stimulating the production of stress hormones, but can also contribute to levels of anxiety, irritability, muscle tension, weakened immunity and insomnia. Caffeine can also inhibit the absorption of the hormone adenosine, needed to give us a sense of calmness, which can contribute to sleeping problems.
Better choices to help reduce your anxiety include caffeine-free herbal teas like chamomile, holy basil, passionflower, licorice, which are all great calming and adrenal nourishing herbals. If you love your coffee, stick to just one. Given that caffeine can stay in your system for 8 or more hours, don’t drink coffee or caffeine-containing teas after 2pm so that it won’t disturb your sleep. If you make the switch to decaffeinated coffee make sure its water, not chemically, filtered.
Keep Blood Sugar Levels Balanced
If your blood sugar levels fluctuate during the day so too will your mood and energy levels, and this can be a big contributing factor in people with anxiety and depression. Eating a diet high in sugary and ‘white’ processed carbohydrate foods will cause sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood stream, which can result in irritability, fluctuating mood, anxiety, tiredness, and poor concentration.
The best way to keep blood sugar levels stable is by limiting sugary foods, and eating natural, unprocessed foods rich in fibre including wholegrains (brown rice, whole oats and quinoa), fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes. Eating smaller meals more regularly and including protein-rich foods with each meal and as snacks is also an excellent way to stabilise blood sugar levels and curb sugar cravings. Healthy protein rich foods include raw nuts and nut butters, seeds (including quiona and tahini), chicken, fish, red meat, legumes (hummus), eggs, yoghurt and dairy foods.
Research shows that people with anxiety, in particular social anxiety, are up to three times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, which will only end up further exacebating their anxiety. Drinking excessively can also affect serotonin levels, our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. When serotonin levels are low we are more prone to depression and anxiety. It can also increase your heart rate, lead to unstable blood sugar levels and dehydration which can all trigger bouts of anxiety.
Eat Tryptophan-rich Foods
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel happy and content, is manufactured in the body using the amino acid tryptophan. This essential amino acid cannot be produced in the body so it must be supplied through the diet. Tryptophan is also needed to produce melatonin, which is vital for helping us sleep. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue.
Including foods rich in tryptophan in your daily diet is recommended to help treat anxiety, such as turkey, chicken, beef, brown rice, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, nuts and fruit (bananas) and vegetables (peas, pumpkin, potato, corn, spinach).
Probiotic-rich Fermented Foods
Our gut plays a key role in guarding against developing anxiety and depression-related disorders. A large percentage of our neurotransmitters such as serotonin, our ‘feel good’ hormone, are produced in the gut. Consuming probiotic rich foods or supplementing your diet with a good quality probiotic supplement will replenish friendly bacteria in the gut to promote good gut health and support immune function. Antibiotics, medications, poor diet, and prolonged anxiety deplete these beneficial bacteria leaving way for harmful bacteria to flourish. Probiotic-rich foods that should be included regularly in your diet include fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, fermented vegetables (eg. sauerkraut) and miso.
Maca is a root vegetable native to Peru and this superfood is considered an ‘adaptogen’, as it works wonders for improving energy levels and helping you cope with the stressful demands of modern life. Maca therefore can be beneficial for reducing symptoms of anxiety. Maca contains high levels of B vitamins, which are essential for producing energy and helping the body cope with stress, and is also a good vegetarian source of B12, necessary for healthy functioning nerves. Maca is also beneficial for your bones and for prevention of osteoporosis as it contains calcium and magnesium. Maca powder has a light, nutty flavour, which mixes well in smoothies, protein balls, or sprinkled over breakfast cereal.
Practice Mindful Eating
Prepare your meals with love and care and think about what you are putting in your mouth. You should always try to eat sitting down when you are feeling calm and relaxed. You should avoid eating too fast or on the go. When you are stressed and running around, your digestion slows down. Digestion actually starts in your mouth, chewing physically breaks down and mixes your food with saliva (hat begins to digest carbohydrates). Chewing also signals to the rest of your digestive tract to get ready for food.
4. Lifestyle Changes for Beating Anxiety
Exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate anxiety and depression. It is vital for maintaining mental health and helping you deal with stress in a healthier way. When you exercise endorphins and serotonin are released, which are brain chemicals that help ease stress and discomfort, and can help improve feelings of anxiety. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to help stabilise mood and reduce tension. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy, anything from walking, swimming, dancing, soccer, or surfing. Team sports are great for increasing social interaction, which has been shown to help improve mood and reduce stress levels.
Meditation is an excellent way to relax your mind and body. When you meditate it produces alpha brain waves that help promote calmness and relaxation.
Having a good laugh is another great way to reduce your cortisol levels and lessen anxiety symptoms. Meeting up with friends for a laugh or watching a funny movie is a good remedy when you are feeling anxious.
– Blog post provided by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea (www.bodhiorganictea.com)