Anxiety/Stress are largely affected by food
“ I told you I wanted a skinny Caffe Mocha!!!” , yelled this visibly disturbed woman at the Starbucks I was at the other day. I almost wanted to walk up to her and tell her that the coffee wasn’t going to help and that she should come and see me. Even the smallest of things are now setting many people off today. Many people’s bodies literally just don’t have the ability to cope. Anxiety and stress are a part of almost everyone’s lives. It is an epidemic that greatly impacts the lives of many people leading to disorders and even worse panic attacks and other chronic health problems. Many people do not have the necessary mental and emotional skills to be able to deal with anxiety and stress. While I firmly believe that many components of mental health are a part of the problem, nutrition plays a critical role in controlling the internal biochemical response that stress and anxiety have on the body.
Unfortunately, while taking medications can really help in the short term to help people cope with anxiety and stress, this is not the answer to helping the body to truly heal. While this blog post is largely focused on what the body needs nutritionally, let it be understood that while this is a very critical component, often times the mental aspects of anxiety are often far more critical and important to deal with. Some ways to deal with those components will be listed below.
What happens when the body experiences anxiety or stress?
Anxiety and stress can cause an abnormal spike in adrenal hormones to be flooded into the system. Normally, these hormones are reserved for time of when the body is undergoing a real emergency situation, such as getting stung by a bee or when you are losing badly in a game of Mario Kart and 50 dollars is on the line. Our fight or flight response is generally activated to prepare our body for the abnormal stress we are under. This is normal when there is a real threat. However, when body is constantly dealing with “crisis” the adrenal fatigue can cause problems such as (more than 50 different symptoms actually exist):
- Increased food sensitivities/allergies
- Mood swings
- Mental fog
- PMS or menopausal symptoms
- Low blood sugar – hypoglycemia
- Cravings for sugar, salt and fats
- Decreased sex drive and many more
- Poor sleep
- Lowered immune function
- Fatigue and very low energy
- Irritability, quick to become angry
This will also put stress on the rest of the endocrine system and your body as a whole. Due to this occurring, people often eat and drink many of the things that will further exacerbate and make the problem worse. People literally get addicted to the feeling of having these hormones raging in the body.
Here in the clinic, we use very specific nutritional products that support the body’s ability to be able to handle anxiety and stress. We use a very special product that contains an organic blend of whole sources of an extract that supports hormonal health and that also has calcium, magnesium, niacinaminde, B6, and kelp. We also use 2 different products for men and woman that helps to stimulate growth of new cells to help rebuild the adrenals, thyroid and pituitary, which all are affected by stress and anxiety. Contact me for a phone consultation or to see about a whole food supplement that is right for you.
What are some of the foods that will cause adrenal fatigue and will contribute to even higher levels of anxiety and stress?
1. Refined carbohydrates and sugar: These foods can cause spikes in blood sugar and can lead to hypoglycemia. Most people that have hypoglycemia test energetically weak in the adrenals. Refined food has had the most nutritious part of the food removed. Later, synthetic vitamins are added back to food to the food to “make up” for what was removed. In testing the body almost always rejected synthetic nutrients. Stay away from all white pasta, white rice, white bread, most cereals, and all products containing added sugar. These two things alone cause massive problems in the body and should not be overlooked.
2. Avoid Caffeine. What I have observed is that those with adrenal fatigue, anxiety and high levels of stress almost always drink coffee and other stimulants. Caffeine, which is and addictive stimulate, has been proven to produce higher levels of anxiety and tension. It stimulates an adrenal response, which people get used to and need to have in order to “function” right.
3. Alcohol: While it may serve to calm one down at first, over time alcohol works against the body and should not be taken by those who are anxious or constantly stressed out.
4. Artificial Sweeteners such as those found in diet products like Splenda, aspartame and others have been known to deplete the body of dopamine, leading to more stress, anxiety and depression.
5. Food sensitivities. Two of the most common foods that cause problems in those with high levels of anxiety are dairy and wheat. They should be avoided altogether. Getting tested through Nutrition Response Testing will let you know what food you are sensitive too.
Very specific nutrients and foods can be eaten that can severely reduce if not eliminate anxiety or at least will give the body nutritional support that it needs to be able fight again stress naturally.
What are some of those nutrients?
1. Calcium and Magnesium. Most people in the USA today have depleted levels of minerals in the body. Two of the most important ones are Calcium and Magnesium. Vitamins and minerals are like a symphony, they are better taken (played) together. Foods high in calcium include sesame seeds, spinach, collard greens, blackstrap molasses, kelp, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, brazil nuts, celery, almonds, papaya, flax seeds and oranges. Foods high in magnesium include bran (wheat, oats and rice), almonds, spinach, cashews, various nuts, oatmeal, lentils, banana, buckwheat, and avocado.
2. Desiccated or adrenal extracts: In the clinic this is one of the main things we give to people to help restore proper adrenal function.
3. B-complex. The adrenal gland particularly has an affinity to pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), which activates the adrenal glands. A whole food B complex such as cataplex B from Standard Process or from Garden of Life are great sources of these valuable vitamins.
4. Vitamin C. It is needed to actually help in the production of the hormones that are secreted by the adrenal glands. It also stimulates the immune system and is a powerful tranquilizer and has a calmative effect on the body.
5. Other nutrients needed include vitamin E (wheat germ oil), zinc, and trace minerals.
6. It is also very important in many cases to chelate (pull) heavy metals and heavy chemicals from the system, as their effect on the nervous system can cause many problems associate with anxiety, stress and adrenal fatigue.
Other things that help wonderfully with anxiety and stress:
1. Eating an abundance of raw and steamed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds will provide the body with the nutrition necessary to be able to form a foundation of nutrition that will enable to the body to fight against stress, anxiety or adrenal fatigue.
2. Exercise. The benefits of exercise are well known and help to the body to calm down and de-stress the body.
3. Meditation and Deep Breathing (relaxation techniques). I highly recommend the books written by Dr. Andrew Weil “Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing” and “Meditation for Optimum Health”. People who meditate and breathe deeply have been proven to be able to handle anxiety and stress far better than those that do not meditate.
4. Nutrition Response Testing. By having a complete exam, a practitioner will be able to identity exactly what is trouble the nervous system and exactly what nutrients your body needs the most. I know of no better method to help identify exactly what your body needs and in the right quantity.
5. Negative relationships. Find the strength to separate yourself from those that take your energy and drain you.
6. Stressful job. If possible, consider simplifying your life and making a change to a job that isn’t as stressful.
Another thing that can help tremendously during acute episodes of anxiety is the Bach Flower Remedy called Rescue Remedy, which can be purchased at many health food stores around the country.
Living a clean lifestyle and getting the body the nutrients that the body needs is the best way to keep yourself from getting anxious and being beaten by stress.