What is anxiety?
Although part of the normal stress response, anxiety sufferers experience chronic symptoms including irritability, difficulty concentrating, inability to deal with stress, poor sleep and premenstrual anxiety. Anxiety is twice as prevalent in women as it is in men and symptoms generally start from as early as 10 to 25. Food (and sometimes supplements) can help in the form of nutritional therapy. Here are my top foods to put on (and those to take off) your plate:
- Protein rich breakfast and lunch to help support blood sugar throughout the day.
- B vitamins (especially B6) to calm the nervous system – mushrooms, sunflower seeds, dark green leafy veg, asparagus, eggs, cauliflower, chicken.
- Gut support – often referred to as the second brain. Probiotic boosting foods such as fermented foods eg sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, miso.
- Calming foods: magnesium and calcium are nature’s tranquilisers and deficiency in particularly magnesium can exacerbate anxiety: Epsom baths salts, calcium rich foods in the evening (greens, kiwi fruit, almonds, walnuts); magnesium rich foods (pumpkin seeds, spinach, pulses, salmon, soybeans); calming teas (L-theanine in green tea but opt for decaf version, valerian, chamomile, lavender) selenium in brazil nuts.
- Oily fish – salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines. 3x week – not only for the protein and B vitamins but most importantly for the EPA and DHA which helps every receptor site on the outside of our cells which helps to regulate hormones which in turn helps to regulate our mood.
- Exercise regularly and add some yoga and meditation into your routines where possible. Run outside to get some Vit D too, needed for calcium absorption (see point 4!).
- Avoid stimulants – including refined sugar! If you cannot go with out coffee then drink caffeine with food as this changes the metabolic response vs drinking it on it’s own.
- Last but not least our Energy Elixir – designed to support our adrenals which house our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. It includes maca for resilience, baobab and vitamin C which is depleted at times of stress, chlorella for iron and pea protein and wheatgrass for essential amino acids.
Words by Karen Newby, BSc Nutritional Medicine, mBANT, CNHC and founder of Alchemy.