If you experienced anxiety or depression in the past week, you’re not alone!
In the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem like mixed anxiety and depression. In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK. Women were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men. Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
That’s a lot of sick days.
Recent research suggests that because of the gut-brain connection, one of the easiest, safest and most effective way to help your brain is to heal your gut. Resolving inflammation in the gut, with the help of some dietary changes and a “psychobiotic” drink called kefir, has been shown to have results in reducing anxiety and depression.
You can do this at home, right in your own kitchen – and unlike SSRIs, which have been found by the Lancet to have risks to health, all the side effects are beneficial.
Day 1 – Take kefir.
A psychobiotic like kefir is one of the safest, most effective ways to deal with mild anxiety and depression. What’s a psychobiotic? It’s live bacteria (probiotics) which, when ingested, confer mental health benefits. You don’t need to have clinical depression, an anxiety disorder, or some other psychiatric disorder in order for psychobiotics to positively affect your brain. Anyone suffering from chronic stress, low mood, or anxiety-like symptoms has the potential to benefit from this class of probiotics.
Day 2 – Cut out sugar.
Sugar has been found to worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the body’s ability to cope with stress. Individuals who suffer from panic attacks, for example, are hyper-alert to signs of impending danger. Sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty thinking and fatigue, all of which may be interpreted as signs of a panic attack, thereby increasing worry and fear. A sugar high and subsequent crash can cause shaking and tension, which can make anxiety worse.
Day 3 – Take collagen.
Why is collagen so great for anxiety? It contains an amino acid called glutamine, which is considered to be one of the most important and abundant amino acids in the body. Research shows that glutamine has benefits for preventing anxiety, tension, sleep disorders/insomnia, a lack of concentration, poor digestive health, a weakened immune system and low energy. According to a report printed the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s been shown to have positive effects of production of growth hormone, which can improve aspects of mental health, such as helping with release of GABA that boosts feelings of “inner calm and tranquility.”
Day 4 – Cut out gluten.
Wheat is not your friend! Research shows that short-term exposure to gluten specifically induced feelings of depression, with no effect on other indicators or on emotional disposition. Such findings might explain why patients with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity feel better on a gluten-free diet despite the continuation of gastrointestinal symptoms. So give the gluten a miss for a day, and try out other “good grains” like amaranth, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and oatmeal! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24689456
Day 5 – Feeling blue?
Eat blueberries! Blueberries are an anxiety buster because they’re rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which may help regulate and prevent spikes in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone and when elevated cortisol your anxiety response kicks into gear. Choose wild blueberries whenever possible, which have higher levels of antioxidants and are thus more potent inflammation fighters. Keep a bag of frozen blueberries in the fridge and add them to pancakes or toss them into a smoothie – very nice to mix with almond butter and cacao!
Day 6 – Apples!
Healthy dessert alert: When you’re craving something sweet post-dinner, cut an apple into cubes and saute it a skillet with some goat butter, cardamom, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of yacon syrup and a dash of vanilla extract until the apples soften and begin to brown. It’s like apple pie filling, but it’s ready in seconds and is packed with inflammation-fighting ingredients. Like berries, apples are high in antioxidants, which can help to prevent and repair oxidation damage and inflammation on the cellular level. They are also full of soluble fiber, which balances blood sugar swings.
DAY 7 – Take some thyme for yourself!
A recent study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine showed that thyme extract helps lower anxiety. A great way to consume thyme is to put it in a dipping oil, and dip in a selection of fresh crunchy veggies. Here’s a recipe
Fresh Thyme Dipping Oil
½ cup olive oil
1 drop each of thyme, oregano, rosemary, and basil essential oil
½ teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
Mix all ingredients.