Let me start this post by stressing that I can only write about what works for me. If you’re experiencing Anxiety and want to make some changes then I would suggest having a conversation with someone who can give you options (doctor, naturopath, therapist) and then you can educate yourself.
I recently came to a fork in the road of my life. The Anxiety I was experiencing was negatively affecting my life and I had had enough. I could either keep doing what I was doing and continue to struggle, or I could make some changes. I am about 6 weeks into these changes and I have noticed a massive change in my Anxiety levels, the frequency of panic attacks and my overall mood.
Here are two of the main changes I have made, or continue to make.
Probiotics and Fermented Foods:
There is so much positive research showing the link between good health within the gut (micro biome) and mental health. The gut is often referred to as the “second brain”.
You can increase the amount of Lactobacillus Plantarum by adding foods like sauerkraut and kimchi to your diet. Kombucha is great but watch the sugar. The best thing you could add to your diet is a little kefir everyday (30-80ml). A simple alternative is to take a high quality, high quantity probiotic (50 billion is great). Keep in mind that Probiotics need to eat – they feed on Prebiotics and the more you feed Probiotics then the more efficient the live bacteria will work and the healthier your gut will be. Prebiotics can’t be taken as a supplement. They’re found in raw food (leave those Veggie skins ON!) and in whole foods – wholemeal pasta, brown rice etc. Think of the white versions of these foods as cotton wool – they don’t do anything except fill you up. Consider food swaps e.g. sweet potato/orange kumera fries instead of standard potato fries.
Look at what you’re eating. Be honest with yourself and truly asses that what you’re eating is helping you, rather than hurting you. I would never suggest that you live on a diet of kale and air but know that what you’re putting into your body can drastically change your mood. Consider keeping a food diary so you can track what you’re eating and what you need to incorporate into your diet.
Consider how much refined sugar you’re eating – once you start looking at it you’ll see it’s in EVERYTHING. Sweet alternatives are great i.e. honey, maple syrup etc as they don’t convert to fructose (the enemy) but be realistic, they still contain free sugar (approx 67%). Just be careful about the qualities you’re adding to your baking. Try cutting the quantities down in recipes and after a while you might see you’re more sensitive to sweet food meaning you won’t need to add as much. That’s what happened to me.
Consider doing an elimination diet. This is hardcore and a massive hassle but really, so is having an anxiety disorder.
Lastly (and for me it’s the hard one!) consider how much coffee you’re drinking. I was drinking a ton of coffee – up to 5 cups a day! I’ve reduced this to about 2 plus one cup of Matcha, which has about a 1/3 of caffeine than coffee does. It’s still quite a lot but I’m happy with this.
I’ll follow up in Part 2 with some additional changes I’m making like incorporating Adaptogens into my diet and supplement regime, having an awareness of the supplements I am taking and how they can interfere with each other And I’ll talk about other essentials like excersize and mediation.