In post 1, we went over anxiety and how we can take steps to help ourselves overcome this disorder naturally. De-cluttering our lives was the first step in this 3-step process. In this post, we’ll go over the second step in treating anxiety, which is nutrition and supplements. *Please speak to a qualified healthcare practitioner before using supplements.
The research on gut health (aka your digestive system or microbiome), plays a crucial part in anxiety and stress. I’ll try to explain the scientific research in the easiest way possible so stick with me! Significant progress has been made in the last 10 years in discovering the importance of gut health and its connection to brain function. The research shows that the gut microbiota influences brain chemistry and behavior. It also shows that stress influences the composition of gut microbiota and that this communication that goes back and forth affects our stress reactivity. Alterations in gut microbiota can influence anxiety and depressive-like behaviors and neuroscientists are basically really excited to see how these findings will affect mental health in the future. Not only anxiety and depression have been linked to the brain/gut connection, but so has Autism and the spectrum.
Our microbiome is easily damaged by eating processed foods, highly acidic foods, sugar, pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics, chemicals and toxins. Gut microbiota influences Serotonin and Dopamine production, two extremely important bodily functions! More than 90% of the body’s Serotonin is in the gut and it’s the “feel good” neurotransmitter and helps us have feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Just taking probiotics regularly has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on anxiety and depression symptoms.
So, how can you start healing your gut? Take probiotics regularly (preferably not from a dairy source – it will say on the bottle). Eating fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt and miso are also helpful. Start eating real, whole foods regularly, including a lot of vegetables and cut out the refined sugar. Whole foods just means eating food as close to its natural state as possible. Next, drink lots of water and limit alcohol since alcohol is hard for our bodies to process and it contains a lot of sugar.
Changing eating habits can be extremely challenging for people and it can take a lot of self-control. Hire a health coach if you feel you are the type of person who needs more support in this area. This person will help you incorporate healthy foods and find easy ways to prepare them. Your taste buds will take a few weeks to adjust to your new diet but I promise it will change your life and once your taste buds change, you actually won’t find yourself craving those old, unhealthy foods anymore.
Supplements that may be helpful in dealing with anxiety are: Ashwaganda, Fish Oil or plant-derived DHA for my vegan friends, B Complex, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Maca powder. *Please do your own research and speak with a qualified healthcare practitioner, like a naturopathic doctor, before using supplements.
Drinks and Teas I like are: Kava Tea, Magnesium Calm drink, Valerian tea, Chamomile + Lavender tea.
Essential Oils that are good for anxiety: Lavender and Roman Chamomile. Please be sure you are using pure essential oils.
Stay tuned for part 3, which will address overcoming anxiety and stress through mindset and mindfulness.