Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety go hand in hand with each other, however, they are not the same. Stress has physical and physiological symptoms such as anger, muscle pain, digestive issues. Whereas anxiety is more of a difficulty controlling your feeling of worry. You may feel yourself getting lost in your thoughts along with that tight feeling in your chest and racing heart.
Anxiety occurs when the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol are raised which are released when there is a dip in blood sugar levels. This dip can occur following a spike in blood sugar levels. A low GL diet will help balance your blood sugar levels due to its slow releasing carbohydrates. Most fruit and vegetables, chickpeas, lentils, brown pasta and whole grain breads, as well as are examples of foods you can eat to help with a low GL diet. Chromium as a supplement will also help even out blood sugar levels. Ashwaganadha is a herbal remedy that helps reducing stress and anxiety by decreasing the hormone cortisol that's mentioned above. Vitamin B5, which is also referred to as pantothenic acid, nourishes the adrenal gland and is needed by these glands to make glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids help with the immune system by fighting inflammation within the body.
Another way to reduce anxiety and stress is to reduce stimulants. Even though some of these stimulants may have a short term effect in anxiety and stress reduction, the long term effects are actually the opposite. Caffeine is usually used for energy, however it gives us this energy by increasing the adrenal hormones; so this prevents anxious and stressed people the ability to calm down. Therefore, reducing caffeine intake such as drinking less coffee and caffeinated energy drinks should help. Nicotine is also another stimulant; although you may feel that in that moment a cigarette may calm you down, the cravings formed for nicotine actually cause you to be more irritable and anxious in the long term. Alcohol is a relaxant because it stimulates GABA receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that inhibits stress hormones and promotes serotonin, also known as our happy hormone. This is why, for a short period of time, alcohol makes us feel very relaxed and happy. However, alcohol disrupts the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle, the dreaming phase of sleep. This causes us to wake up more frequently during the night, and so we make up more tired and irritable due to not getting our good night's rest. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is critical in hormonal balance. It has a great impact on GABA and serotonin production. A deficiency is vitamin B12 can also cause anxiety and depression as this vitamin is essential for tetrahydrobiopterin production. This is an essential coenzyme for the manufacture of dopamine and serotonin.
The gastrointestinal tract also plays a huge part in our mood via the vagus nerve. The bacteria in our gut are responsible for a lot of how the body absorbs the nutrients we get from food, which affects our immune system, cardiovascular system, skin, and, of course, our mood. If the bad bacteria outweigh the good it causes a dysbiosis in our gut, meaning we will not reap the benefits of the nutrients we're getting, no matter how much we take. Up to 95% of the body's serotonin is manufactured in the gut. A healthy balanced diet with probiotics found in a variety of foods should be efficient in ensuring our gut is healthy. However, we can also take supplements of probiotics to help recondition our gut to replace the bad bacteria with good, and maximising the effects on our body.
A few other products that help with keeping anxiety and stress at bay are magnesium, L-theanine and lemon balm. Magnesium, simply put, helps you relax; whether you've got stressed muscles or a stressed mind, a few week of magnesium supplementation should help. Magnesium works by activating the neurotransmitters that promote calmness; and for muscles it blocks calcium which will help your muscles relax after contracting. L-theanine works by increasing alpha brain wave activity which promotes relaxation. The benefit of l-theanine is that it's quickly absorbed into the body. Lemon balm promotes the function of the neurotransmitter GABA which is mentioned above.
The Melissa Dream product below contains a variety of the nutrients mentioned. Click the image to see more information on the product.
Although each of these products work differently for similar benefits, it may take a few weeks to feel the effects. This is why sometimes it's good to go back to basics. Simple breathing techniques have proved beneficial to help calm the mind when feeling anxious. Taking part in frequent meditation will help promote relaxation and calmness in the mind before anxious thoughts can creep in and take over. Participating in exercise and sports will also help with distracting the mind for a bit and help you get away from it all; however, as well as this, when we exercise we release chemicals that suppress the hormones that cause stress and anxiety.
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Author - Hannah Kate Murphy