Updated: Nov 9, 2020
What does an anxiety attack feel like? Heart pounding, mind racing, can't fall asleep, can't focus and being unmotivated are just some of the feelings of being anxious. It is a horrible feeling. Plus, anxiety can cause physical symptoms.
Upset stomach, headache, nausea, gas, bloating and diarrhea are just a few of the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack. If anxiety is allowed to go on for a long period of time without being managed, it causes the body to constantly produce stress hormones. Managing anxiety does not mean taking pharmaceuticals. In fact, lifestyle changes can be just as effective as pharmaceuticals and without nasty side effects.
FOODS THAT HELP WITH ANXIETY
Food is medicine! There are so many illnesses, diseases and health concerns that can be managed and eliminated by eating the right foods. Foods that are high in the following nutrients can help manage anxiety:
Omega-3 - found in fatty fish such as salmon but also plant based foods such as brussel sprouts, walnuts and chia seeds
Selenium - found in brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and lentils
Vitamin D - found in soy milk and mushrooms
Potassium - found in beans, dried fruit and avocado
Turmeric - a spice in the ginger family
Theanine - found in tea
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet is usually lacking in the above nutrients. Americans tend to eat a lot of animal protein, processed foods and very few fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
THE HIGH PROTEIN MYTH
There is a belief that the only way to get protein is by eating meat, chicken, fish and pork. Also, most Americans believe we need to be eating a lot of protein. A lot more than adults should!
Needing to eat a lot of protein couldn't be further from the truth! Adults don't need to eat a lot of protein, especially from animals. Every day, adults need only 30 grams of protein. Why? Protein is the building block for growing which is why it is so important to have high protein when we are children and still growing.
Adults are not growing! Eating excess animal protein, such as 50 to 70 grams a day, will only make it harder to lose weight and can potentially have serious impact on your health. For example, people that eat very high protein diets have a higher risk of kidney stones.
Also a high protein diet that contains lots of red meat and high amounts of saturated fat might lead to a higher risk of heart disease and colon cancer, while another high protein diet rich in plant-based proteins may not carry similar risks. (Source: Harvard Health) Eating anything in excess, even protein, gets turned into fat and is stored in the body for later use.
ANXIETY AND GUT HEALTH
Anxiety and IBS, Chron's, Colitis, IBD, often go hand-in-hand. People develop anxiety over the lack of a healthy gut and then the anxiety often feeds into the symptoms - it creates a vicious cycle. If food allergies or sensitivities are involved, identifying and removing "trigger" foods will often decrease symptoms. Not just digestive health symptoms, but other symptoms as well. Such as anxiety, mood swings, irritability, nausea/vomiting, heartburn... the list goes on and on.
Food allergies or sensitivities occur when the immune system, for whatever reason, "goofs up" and "attacks" the food that you're eating. The immune system perceives the "offending" food as the "enemy". This "attacking" is what's causing symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, excess mucus in the nose and mouth, abdominal pain, brain fog and excessive tiredness, just to name a few. In some people, the symptoms might result in GI issues, in others, symptoms could be migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, weight gain, bloating and anxiety.
Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Acne and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to just one of the above, your body is telling you something is not right. Discovering the root cause and how to get healthy can be confusing and hard! I am here to help.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with teaching people just like you how to heal their gut so you can stop suffering and get back to living!
I offer a FREE 30 minute strategy session where we will talk about your specific symptoms and how the Simply Great Health program can help.
How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:
✅Be more present with your children
✅Focus at work
✅Have more energy
✅Stop running to the bathroom
✅Workout without fear of an accident or farting
✅Restore your confidence
✅Be able to cook healthy meals for you and your family
✅Take an active vacation
✅Reclaim your life!
Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your body and fits your busy lifestyle.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS FOR ANXIETY
In addition to finding and eliminating food allergies and sensitivities, dietary supplements can reduce anxiety. Below are a couple of my favorite. Since our physiology is unique, working with a Certified Holistic Nutritionist can identify the best supplement for your situation.
If you automatically thought of eating turkey, I wouldn't blame you. Tryptophan has the reputation to make us sleepy. The truth is tryptophan is an amino acid that is needed to help our bodies produce serotonin, our happy hormone.
A double blind study in China reported that 3 grams per day of L-tryptophan improved symptoms, including anxiety, in a group of people diagnosed with "neurosis." (Source: Peace Health) If you are taking a SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) make sure to discuss taking tryptophan. Tryptophan would work against the purpose of the SSRI.
Ashwagandha is one of my favorite herbal supplements. It has so many great uses. Adrenal support is one of the benefits. Cortisol is the hormone that is released from our adrenal glands when we have anxiety. Constantly releasing cortisol is damaging to our bodies, keeping us in a constant state of anxiety.
A number of studies support the effectiveness of the herb as a natural anxiety remedy. In 2012, a study found that patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder showed significantly lower anxiety and 28% lower levels of serum cortisol when taking Ashwagandha as opposed to a placebo. (Source: Psychology Today)
Lemon balm is available as both a supplement and a tea. It has a nice refreshing flavor and I love drinking it when I take an afternoon break to reset myself and get ready for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
This natural anxiety remedy has been used since at least the Middle Ages to relieve symptoms and encourage relaxation. Known for its calming and soothing properties, several studies have found that lemon balm not only helps to relieve anxiety, but can also improve mood and reduce stress. (Source: Psychology Today)
BREATHING TECHNIQUES FOR ANXIETY
The breath is an amazingly easy and healing tool that we all have access to. I find I can easily relieve immediate stress and anxiety by simply taking a slow breath in and slowly releasing it. This can be done anywhere. In a meeting, at your desk, at the dinner table, in the car and while shopping.
The best part of breathing is you can find what works for you. Starting your day with a 5-15 minute breathing practice can help set a positive mood. There are plenty of free videos on YouTube that simply play relaxing music or are recorded guided meditations specifically for anxiety.
Another way to breath is to take a walk outside in the morning before the day gets busy. Even if it is just 5 minutes, it is a great way to relax, be in nature and enjoy a few minutes of fresh air. If you need some structure, here is an easy breath exercise to try:
Sit comfortably in a chair or some place where your back is straight so your chest is open and belly is relaxed.
Close your eyes.
Slowly breathe in through your nose, using your belly not your chest, for a count of 4. Pause. Slowly let the breath out through your nose to a count of 4. Pause.
It will take a little practice getting used to so don't feel like you have to be a pro as soon as you start. The best part of breathing is there is no right or wrong way to do it. The 4 count is simply a suggestion. As you find what works for you, breathing slowly will become more comfortable and natural.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about why anxiety is disastrous for gut health and what to do about it. Eating foods rich in specific nutrients that calm the body, taking dietary supplements and starting a breathing practice are a few of the actions you can take to reduce anxiety.
Working with a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, such as myself, can help you get to the root cause of your anxiety and work on solving it with healthy habits that fit your busy lifestyle.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Let me know how you cope with it by leaving a comment below.