Mental Health

What we put in our body can have a direct impact on how we feel physically and emotionally.

 
  What we put in our body can have a direct impact on how we feel physically and emotionally. It is important to be aware of what you are putting in your body and how some foods could actually be increasing your experience of anxiety – especially if you are a sensitive person. Some of the anxiety your experience may actually be due to particular stimulants your are consuming, or deficiencies in particular vitamins and minerals. The following information is extremely important in your overall recovery program from anxiety. Think about your lifestyle and what you may be doing that could be exasperating your anxiety. Bourne,E.J. in his book ‘The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook’,( 1995), outlines how stimulants, salt, preservatives, hormones in meat, and sweet refined foods can potentially exasperate your anxiety. What we put in our body can have a direct impact on how we feel physically and emotionally. It is important to be aware of what you are putting in your body and how some foods could actually be increasing your experience of anxiety – especially if you are a sensitive person. Some of the anxiety your experience may actually be due to particular stimulants your are consuming, or deficiencies in particular vitamins and minerals. The following information is extremely important in your overall recovery program from anxiety. Think about your lifestyle and what you may be doing that could be exasperating your anxiety. Bourne,E.J. in his book ‘The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook’,( 1995), outlines how stimulants, salt, preservatives, hormones in meat, and sweet refined foods can potentially exasperate your anxiety.

Stimulants
Caffeine – coffee, tea, alcohol, coke stimulate an adrenal response in your body, which can provoke anxiety, nervousness and insomnia to name a few side effects. They also deplete the body of necessary vitamins and minerals that help balance our mood and nervous system. Recommended dosage – less than 100mg per day (one cup of percolated coffee or two diet cola beverages per day. Less than 50mg per day is preferable.
Nicotine – this is as strong as caffeine – it stimulates increased physiological arousal, vasoconstriction and makes your heart work harder. Smokers tend to be more anxious than non-smokers and tend to sleep less well than non-smokers

Stimulant Drugs – beware of prescription drugs that contain caffeine and amphetamines, and recreational drugs such as cocaine that increase levels of anxiety and panic attacks in people using them.

Salt
Salt depletes the body of potassium, a mineral important to the proper functioning of the nervous system. Salt raises blood pressure that in turn puts a strain on the heart and arteries and hastens arteriolosclerosis. Recommended dosage – do not excess 1gm of salt per day.

Preservatives
There are over 5000 chemical additives in commercial food processing. Our bodies are not equipped to handle these, and little is known about long term biological effects. Try and eat whole unprocessed foods as much as possible. Try to purchase vegetables and fruit that haven’t been treated with pesticides (organically grown).

Hormones in Meat
Most commercially forms of meat have been fed hormones to promote fast weight gain and growth. One hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) has been implicated in the development of breast cancer and fibroid tumors. Try to replace red meat, pork and poultry with organically raised beef, poultry and fish such as cod, salmon, snapper, sole, trout.
Sweet, refined foods
Reduce intake of sweet refined foods as these affect the blood sugar that can lead to anxiety and mood swings while also affecting how the brain functions.

Ref: Bourne,E.J.,(1995) ‘The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, p.333 -337 passim.

MSG

MSG from Chinese takeaway should be avoided as it can have a major irritating effect on the nervous system producing the following: headaches, tingling, numbness and chest pains.

Drink Soda Water

Soda water increases the levels of carbon dioxide that helps the body to become balanced when someone is hyperventilating. Soda water also decreases smooth muscle contractions and dilates blood vessels, which allows blood to flow easily around the body.

Food Allergies
Be aware to check for food allergies as they can be one of the main causes of many emotional problems.

Food to eat to reduce anxiety and maintain calm state
Wholegrain cereals
Asparagus
Garlic
Eggs
Fish
Molasses
Wheat germ
Brewers yeast
Carrots
Onions
Beetroot
Spinach
Paw paw
Celery
Stone fruit
Avocado

Stressful Eating Habits

Stress and anxiety can be aggravated not only by what you eat, but the way you eat. Any of the following habits can aggravate your daily level of stress:
Eating too fast or on the run
Not chewing food at least 15-20 times per mouthful
Eating too much to the point of feeling stuffed or bloated
Drinking too much fluid with a meal which can dilute stomach acid and digestive enzymes (one cup with a meal is sufficient)
These behaviours put strain on your stomach and intestines in their attempt to properly digest and assimilate food. This increases stress in two ways:

Directly through indigestion, bloating, and cramping.
Indirectly through malabsorption of essential nutrients.

Nutrients

There are specific nutrients which can decrease anxiety. These include:
Magnesium – aids with muscle relaxation, maintenance of the heart muscle, neuromuscular transmission and widening of the blood vessels. A deficiency of magnesium can cause:

Agitation
Anxiety
Behavioral disturbances
Confusion
Cold hands and feet
Depression
Insomnia
Restlessness

B Complex Vitamins – these are the spark plugs for our body. They help provide energy by acting with enzymes to convert major nutrients such as carbohydrates to energy forms. They are important for the normal function of the nervous system and are helpful in bringing relaxation or energy to individuals who are stressed or fatigued. A deficiency of certain B vitamins will cause:

Fatigue
Irritability
Nervousness
Depression
Insomnia
Loss of appetite

Calcium – works with maintenance of electrolyte balance, muscle contractions, nerve transmission, regulation of cell division, hormone secretion and bone and teeth formation. A deficiency can cause:

Agitation
Depression
Heart palpitations
Insomnia
Irritability

Source:
The information in this second part of Nutrition has been provided by Janet Schloss, a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist from Brisbane, Australia.

Northstar   
is a contributor and Member of  the Depression Forums

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