The Foundamentals of an Anti-Anxiety Diet
We are what we eat and reducing your anxiety is directly linked to the foods you consume, the hydration you provide for your body, and supplements you take. It can be intimidating changing your diet, so I always suggest my clients start with the fundamentals, by eliminating the culprits, and slowly rebuilding the foundation of their eating habits, until they've got the hang of it! Our gut houses over seventy percent of our immune system and also our second brain; over eighty percent of the neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut too. Serotonin is a vital transmitter for dictating our greater mood and balancing our emotions, so what you eat interacts with your body's ability to manufacture these powerful chemicals.
The gut is a powerhouse that dictates our greater well-being and influences many other major organ systems in the body, so creating a positive relationship with food is a profound step in nourishing yourself as a whole; it's one of the utmost forms of self-respect, self-care, and self-love. Unfortunately, the food industry has become a source of poison, rarely paying attention to health and prevention, stripping nutrients from food by making it fast, cheap, and easy. Most of the standard American diet consists of over-processed carbohydrates, meat, refined sugar, and little to no vegetable consumption. Half of the shit on the ingredient lists of most grocery store isles are now unpronounceable, and more of a "food-like product" than anything wholesome. It's truly puzzling why more people don't question how these toxins build up in their body and cause them distress! The most important thing we can do for ourselves is prioritize nutrients in our diet and not just satisfy our hunger or taste buds. These are the nutrients that give our bodies their energy, their fight, and help us manage stress, anxiety, immunity, and fatigue. Food is our greatest medicine, real food that is, and it's time we start falling in love with feeding ourselves out of love, not just habit.
Michael Pollan says it well and it's a great motto to live by:
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
Fundamental Nutrients for anti-anxiety:
(hyperlinked my favorite supplements)
B vitamins: your nervous system relies on B vitamins, especially if you're prone to anxiety and depression because they help energize and boost mood, among many other beneficial things!
Omega-3 fatty acids: reduces inflammation in the body, and inflammation is often associated with anxiety, fatigue, and depression because stress creates havoc on our bodies. Omega-3 has been effective in reducing the symptoms of depression, which is AWESOME.
(I recommend vegan sources of Omega because fish oil contains traces of mercury)
Magnesium: beneficial in naturally calming nerves, and helps regulate certain hormones in the body that are crucial for calming the brain. It's also great for treating insomnia and fatigue due to anxiety and stress!
Probiotics: our gut microbiome can weigh up to four and a half pounds, containing about 100 trillion bacteria. Our gut helps us break down toxins, provide us with energy, train our immune system, and even manufacture vitamins and neurotransmitters like serotonin. One of the crucial aspects of the gut is its ability to help regulate our nervous system, and ease anxiety and depression. Providing our bodies with good gut bacteria is a powerful precursor to greater mental and physical well-being.
Prebiotics: prebiotic foods (listed below) provide our good gut bacteria with food. Bad bacteria cannot process prebiotics, so by feeding all the good guys and populating our gut's microbiome with beneficial bacteria, we aid our bodies to ease depression and anxiety, boost our immune systems, absorb nutrients, manufacture vitamins, and digest like champs!
Water / hydrating liquids: herbal tea, drinks very low or non-existent in sugar, filtered water, water kefir, etc.
You'll want to eat more:
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids: usually this means fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel, but consuming fish regularly can accumulate in high levels of mercury in your body and that's nasty! Instead, try flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp, wild rice, berries, mango, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collard greens.
Probiotic rich foods (naturally fermented without vinegar): water kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, or supplements if you can't manage to consume them naturally
Foods high in B vitamins: avocado, red meat, eggs, liver, spinach, turkey, green leafy veggies, bananas, seafood, blueberries, almonds
*vegan foods containing various B vitamins: whole grains, green peas, nutritional yeast, sesame, asparagus, squash, spinach, spirulina, mushrooms, quinoa, avocados, tomatoes, baker's yeast, broccoli, chickpeas, beans, kale, collards, sweet potatoes, oranges, cauliflower, hazelnuts
Magnesium rich foods: spinach, chard, black beans, avocado, kale, dark chocolate, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or supplement with a magnesium powder
Zinc rich foods: garbanzo beans, lentils, peanuts, oats, nutritional yeast, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, sesame seeds, beef, egg yokes, cashews
Tryptophan rich foods: oats, poultry, beans, lentils, eggs, sesame seeds
Fruit low in sugar: strawberries, grapefruit, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, apples, blueberries, cranberries
Vegetables / plant fiber: kale, spinach, beets, broccoli, chard, asparagus
Prebiotics: artichoke, garlic, onion, dandelion greens, asparagus, bananas, oats, cacao, flax seeds, burdock root
Water: eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids daily, which also includes tea, juice, sparkling water, etc
You'll want to eat less:
Caffeine: especially coffee
Refined sugars: sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose dextrose, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, cane crystals and corn sweetener
Dairy products: cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt, etc
Alcohol: all of it, but a glass of red wine here and there is OK
Fried foods / unhealthy saturated fats: doughnuts, bacon, burgers, french fries, etc
Gluten: wheat, rye, barley, bulgur, couscous, etc (consume only gluten free oats)
Over-processed food / grain: corn, soy, bacon, soda, fast food, low-fat or fat-free labels
Refined oils: vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, grape seed oil, or any hydrogenated oils
Pesticides: avoid the dirty dozen like celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherry tomato, kale, potato, and grapes. Many of these are imported and can contain up to 15 different pesticides, so buy local, know where your produce is from, and always go organic for this dozen.
Good luck on your journey to a healthier, brighter, and balanced life. I'm rooting for you!