Many of my clients come to me because they don’t want to take medication to manage their anxiety anymore. Instead, they want to address the underlying cause and eventually (and safely) get off the medication. Often the root cause of mental illness can be attributed to a combination of physiological factors in the body such as inflammation and nutrient deficiencies. Many researchers have also found that an imbalance of bacteria in your gut has more to do with your mood than any other contributing factor.
Luckily, we can often turn to our own kitchen and begin to use food as medicine to help rebalance our systems within us to help us feel calmer, reduce inflammation and nourish our body and mind. Here are some beautifully nourishing real foods you can implement in your diet to help lower the severity of your anxiety.
Turmeric is an amazing spice because it has been found to elevate neurotransmitters such as serotonin (one of our feel-good hormones) while lowering our stress hormones. Curcumin (the anti-inflammatory component in turmeric) has also been found to have safe and effective anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. According to this study, turmeric takes around 4 weeks to deliver results and improvement in symptoms. It also contains potent pain relieving, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. If you’ve never used this gorgeous yellow coloured spice before, grab it out of the kitchen pantry and start adding it to your meals. Here are a few of my favourite ways to include turmeric into recipes;
· You can also mix it into scrambled eggs or omelette, mango smoothies, cakes, slices, sprinkle it on top of roasted chicken or veggies and more
Did you know that the real chocolate (called cacao) helps to release serotonin and gives us a euphoric effect, which makes you feel at peace with the world? This may sound weird coming from a nutritionist, but I truly believe that chocolate can be healthy for you when you use real food ingredients to make it. Please note that I DON’T recommend store-bought chocolate unless it’s free of refined ingredients such as; vegetable oils, processed sugar, preservatives, maltodextrin, lecithin and any weird, dubious ingredients.
Here are a few of my favourite chocolate-y recipes;
3. Homemade Fermented Foods
Whether you feel anxiety, depression, or just that all-too-common blah feeling, mood disorders often start in the gut. The gut-brain connection is incredibly important to address because a healthy gut equals a healthy brain. Did you know that your gut’s microbiome produces 95% of serotonin, that’s more than your brain! Serotonin is a known factor in mood, anxiety and depression, to name a few of its functions so you can start to see how your gut becomes central to feeling happy and calm. This is why I recommend eating homemade fermented foods. They contain important probiotics and enzymes which help to improve your digestion, support your immune system, and they help restore and nurture the healthy bacteria in your gut. What’s more, the process of fermentation also increases the availability of B-vitamins, magnesium, and zinc, which can impact mood. I recommend homemade fermented foods to all of my clients and I consume them myself daily (if not a few times per day). You can read more information here and here.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the good fats found in wild-caught salmon and other fatty seafood such as mackerel, snapper, sardines and oysters. Omega-3’s help to protect us against inflammation, they improve mood and reduce stress by lowering our cortisol levels. Try and consume fresh seafood at least 2-3x per week (or more if you can) to make sure you’re getting your Omega-3’s. If you live on the Sunshine Coast then there really isn’t any excuse not to consume it because it’s so easily accessible to us. One of my favourite sustainable fisheries on the coast is called Shore to Shore, one of the only places I’ve been able to find frozen wild-caught salmon (I don’t recommend the yucky farmed salmon).
Please note that these foods alone are not meant to cure your anxiety. If you’re currently experiencing anxiety and would like to delve deeper into how you can support and improve your health through nutrition, then I would highly recommend you book in to have a one-on-one consultation with myself or with your chosen healthcare practitioner. You can contact me here for more information on consultations if you feel like you’re in need of more support and guidance with your own health issues.
Yours in health and happiness
Jordan Pie – Nutritionist & GAPS Practitioner