With an abundance of expert advice available to help us control anxiety, we at Super Supplement Store believe diet plays an important role when managing this debilitating illness. Anxiety, like most mental illnesses, can see us overindulging or under-eating at meal times. In fact, food is considered one of the most abused anxiety drugs of all time, whether we’re succumbing to sugar cravings to combat low moods or being unable to bring ourselves to eat at all.
After speaking with some men and women who live with anxiety, it’s clear one of the most integral aspects of managing this illness is watching what you eat. The food we eat can steer us onto a path of wellbeing by providing us with energy, neurotransmitter function support, reduce fatigue, decrease inflammation, support brain health, contribute to normal nervous system function and release calming effects into the body. Although it may seem trivial, food plays a vital role in overcoming anxiety – or why you might be feeling worse.
It’s important to keep a selection of vitamins and Superfoods on hand when anxious cravings hit. Although we may not feel like eating during times of stress and nervousness, consuming something healthy is better than noting at all – especially if that something is giving you the nutritional benefits your body might be lacking. Although we make no claims it will solve your anxiety completely, adopting a healthier diet could help elevate your mood and assist in the production of serotonin; the neurotransmitter responsible for calming and relaxing our nervous system.
Based upon our research and suggestions from men and women living with anxiety, we’ve created a list of necessary goodies that can heal your body in times of need.
1. Good Fats: Instead of reaching for the cookie jar, stock up on nuts for a quick go-to snack. Nuts are high in fiber and rich in magnesium; a calming mineral essential for balancing our nervous system. Good fats replace the saturated fats in our bodies and unlike bad fats, increase the blood flow to our brains. Other essential good fats to include are avocados, coconut, salmon and natural yoghurts.
2. Valerian Root: This flowering plant has been used as a medicinal herb since the ancient Roman Empire. Originally used to treat insomnia, valerian root is a natural sedative and calming alternative to synthetic drugs. If you’re having a jittery moment before bedtime, drink valerian root in herbal teas combined with other sedative herbs like chamomile and lemon balm.
3. Dark Leafy Greens: Rich in folate and bursting with vitamins, a serving of dark, leafy greens can help our body produce norepinephrine and dopamine, which much like serotonin, are neurotransmitters essential for lifting our moods!
4. Berries: These powerful antioxidants are bite sized stress-busters loaded with plant nutrients. Berries also contain Vitamin C, essential for fighting the stress hormone cortisol while simultaneously repairing & protecting our cells.
5. Protein: Besides the obvious energy boost we gain from eating protein, (see previous blog post Why Protein is the Whey to Go) it also helps our body produce norepinephrine and dopamine, much like leafy greens!
6. Olive Leaf Extract: Particularly useful with small children who suffer from anxiety. A tablespoon of olive leaf extract per day shows considerable therapeutic action towards anxiety and is also critical for immune system support, particularly when we take a mental beating.
Foods that hurt anxiety and should be consumed in small amounts are starchy food products (especially refined pasta, rice, potatoes and breads) sugar and caffeinated drinks. Although these are the types of flavours we crave when moods are low, the reprieve you usually experience is temporary, courtesy of the synthetic ingredients you’ve just consumed. Try berries or bananas for a natural sugar kick and opt for wholemeal or gluten free options when possible. (Keep an eye on the sugar content in gluten free products!) Unfortunately alcohol is also considerably toxic for our anxiety. Although we may feel relaxed after a few glasses of wine, alcohol changes the serotonin and neurotransmitter levels in our brain, guaranteeing our anxiety to triple the next day!