I’ve personally had a long journey with anxiety which you can read more about here. This topic is so dear to my heart as I’ve had so much trial and error with learning how to manage the various anxiety conditions I’ve struggled with. Along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, changing my diet has been one of the most impactful things I have done to help keep my anxiety levels in check. Listed below are some ways you can use your diet to help improve your anxiety and promote improved mental health in general.
You may or may not know that 90% of serotonin (our feel good hormone) is produced in our gut, therefore helping to improve gut health is one of the BEST ways to promote more positive mental health.
- Eat organic foods: this is my TOP recommendation for anyone struggling with anxiety or any other mental health conditions. Pesticides, especially glyphosate (the most commonly used pesticide in the world), have a direct impact on the tight junctions of our gut membrane. As I stated, 90% of serotonin is produced in our guts, meaning when our gut membrane is compromised, so is our serotonin production! Also when we consume pesticides found in non organic foods, we are causing so much confusion to our bodies as these chemicals are highly inflammatory. We have to spend so much energy detoxifying them from our system, which can have a negative impact on our nervous system!
- Eat fermented foods: try to include at least 1 a day – even better if you can include one at every meal! Some ideas include; sauerkruat, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles, and tempeh. Fermented foods are one of the number one ways to promote a healthier more diverse gut flora
- Balance your blood sugars: aim to include vegetables, proteins, carbs, and healthy fats at 3 evenly spaced meals throughout the day.
- Avoid caffeine and refined sugar: When I was experiencing my peak anxiety levels I gave up coffee cold turkey. This was HARD because I was a huge addict but it was so worth it in the long run. I highly recommend transitioning off coffee by opting for a Swiss water organic decaf – that way you still get the lovely taste without the extra jitters 🙂 I also encourage people to reduce or eliminate any refined sugars such as; white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, soda, processed baked goods, or any other high sugar foods. Opt for sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, or dates instead.
- Include oats in your diet: Oats are considered a “nervine” meaning they are super calming for the nervous system. Opting for a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start your morning with an extra dose of calm energy
- Focus on consuming plant based proteins and AVOID all conventionally farmed animal products: try to eat more beans, legumes, tempeh, tofu, and nuts as your protein sources. Avoid all animal products (including dairy) unless they were grass fed, free range, hormone & anti-biotic free, organic, and apart of a regenerative farm. You will likely only be able to find these from a local butcher or at a farmers market. It’s important to remember that when animals are stressed out from the way they are killed, if we go on to eat them, their cortisol and stress hormones are then transferred to us. In fact, 5% of our micro RNA is made up from the last meal we eat.
- Consume more Omega 3’s: these come in the form of ground flax seed, Spirulina, chlorella, sea weeds, walnuts, hemp hearts, and wild fish (smaller types are better).
- Eat lots of root vegetables: These can quite literally help us to feel more grounded! It makes sense as these vegetables grow in the ground! Some of my favourites include; carrots, beets, yams, potatoes, and parsnips.
- Drink Chamomile Tea: I recommend a cup or 2 every evening to help wind down and relax your nervous system.
If you want to know more awesome tips like these so you can bring your health to the next level stay tuned for NEXT LEVEL NOURISHED to re-launch in March 2020!
Note: Although I am a registered holistic nutritionist, I am not a medical doctor or therapist. If you are struggling with your mental health it is highly recommended you seek help from a professional in this area.