Ahh anxiety. All of us have struggled with it in one way or another; some of us know it abit more than others. Anxiety is deeply personal and frustrating for the sufferer and often can be hard to understand for their friends and family. Treatment can come in different forms, the mainstream pharmaceutical way, (which didn’t work for me but certainly has a place for some), or the more natural approach through medicinal herbs, food, meditation and mindful changes. For me, because I am obsessed with what food I will make, bake and eat on a daily basis, food was my way forward.
Here are my top five foods for helping with anxiety:
- Water kefir or kombucha.
Fermented foods are the best way to improve your gut health, and because your lovely stomach is very closely linked to your equally lovely brain this connection needs to be nourished and cared for. Kombucha and water kefir are your best bets at keeping this link healthy as it adds in the good bacteria that your body needs. As the awesome organic mechanic guys told us a few weeks ago, 95% of our serotonin resides in your gut. This important neurotransmitter is what gives us our feeling of happiness and wellbeing. Very important when you are anxious or depressed! More and more research is coming out that backs up the importance of our gut brain link, and if a kombucha drink daily is going to help that – then sign me up!
- Omega 3.
When people are deficient in omega 3, their serotonin and dopamine levels are reported to be affected which directly affects their mood and anxiety levels.
So the first food that comes to mind for omega 3 is fish. Oily fish like salmon, or sardines can be easily incorporated into people’s weekly diet. However, omega 3 is also found in chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts – so by throwing in a few chia seeds and a few nuts into your morning smoothie it can take it to an all new, anxiety busting, level.
- Green tea.
Apart from making a mean ice cream, green tea is awesome at helping people with anxiety due to the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine has been found to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in people with low levels. It also gives you something to order when you are avoiding the higher doses of caffeine in coffee when you are out for brunch on Sunday.
- Low GI foods.
Ok so this is a bit of a catch phrase term, but what I mean is wholegrain, whole foods. Just think minimally processed – not white foods. The reason why wholegrain foods are a better choice is because they slowly release the energy from within the food, giving your body a sustained energy release opposed to white processed foods that give you a quick energy rush, with the quickly following energy slump. You want to keep your sugar levels stable, especially if you suffer from anxiety. Stable sugar levels reduce the fight or flight response that you can get if you run on sugar and caffeine.
- Magnesium rich foods.
Magnesium is amazing, it is deeply needed but most of us in society. Magnesium is water soluble, meaning you need to replace it daily. The more stressed or anxious you are, the quicker you burn through your stores, another reason to make sure you up your intake of green leafy vegetables, (think Kale, spinach, silver beet), nuts, whole grains, molasses, and raw cacao (yes that does mean good quality dark chocolate). Magnesium has a direct effect on our nervous system hence why it is perfect for beating anxiety and depression.
As with anything worth doing, the natural approach to anxiety and depression takes time. But anything, no matter how small it is, is going to help. Even if you pick just one thing, it is a start, and always remember as crappy as it is to be anxious or depressed, I believe it gives you a new perspective on life and it truly allows you to be more open to helping others in the same place, because you know what it can be like and you also know you have the power and smarts to change your life, one smoothie or chocolate fudge bar (trust me I have an amazing recipe) at a time.