Most people experience stress to some degree, some experience it more then others and some are plagued by full blown anxiety. Lets face it; life can be really diffucult and trying to cheer ourselves up can be even harder. Apart from the emotional toll our body also experiences physiological responses; our brain triggers our adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline speeds the heart rate, boosting your energy and your blood pressure. That energy is directed away from your digestive and immune systems to prepare for an alarmed state and it increased the blood sugar levels and the brains intake of glucose (sugar). This is great if you are in a true fight or flight situation but not so great when a co-worker does something annoying or something of that nature. The true issue is when this is a continual process in your body and it is always in a state of stress. Chronic stress has been linked to weight gain, impaired memory functioning, aging due to the fact it breaks down collagen, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, a weak immune system, increased levels of estrogen which can lead to weight gain and mood swings and it can interfere with your bodies serotonin leading to depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Now we should all be doing things like exercising, spending time outdoors, meditation and yoga but today we are going to look at a few foods and herbs that we can add into our diet to make sure that our body has everything it needs in order to support itself when dealing with stress because well, I can't give you advice on work, partners or other stresses but I can share this knowledge with you :)
When it comes to herbs we ideally want to give our body what is known as adaptogenic herbs, these are herbs that help to even out stress levels and the bodies responses so that we are not always met with the anxiety pit in our stomaches instead we are kept at a nice even level so that our brains can function calmly and clearly and a proper response to the situation. Lets look a little more closely at these herbs:
Holy Basil - Tulsi
This was a herb that I first discovered while I was traveling in India, they regard this herb highly and it is no wonder. It is excellent for your immune system, it is an antioxidant, anti inflammatory, anti viral, anti cancer and anti tumour and it does wonders to calm the nerves working synergistically with your body to lower cortisol and blood sugar levels. I love to enjoy a cup of Tulsi tea, but if you're not much of a tea drinker you can also purchase a tincture or capsules.
Maca is actually a root that is found in the mountains of Peru, this is one of the first adaptogens that I began experimenting with. I was working as a server at a pub that would suddenly fill up completely for lunch and I often got that 'Oh my goodness how am I going to do all of this?' feeling. I always managed to do a great job but when everyone shows up at once you certainly notice a physiological response! I began adding this adaptogen to my morning smoothie and found it to be extremely helpful to keep my mind calm and to reduce that anxiety ball in my tummy! It is also a great hormone balancer promoting regular cycles and increasing fertility, and helping to relieve erectile dysfunction in men as well as increase libido in both sexes. It is great for enhanced energy and helps to strengthen the blood.
Other helpful adaptogens include: Liquorice, Ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha.
Vitamins and Minerals can also seriously impact our Stress response and Anxiety levels.
The documentary Food Matters speaks of a woman who was do depressed and had such anxiety levels that she was bound to a chair that faced a corner and wanted to do nothing more. She began to take high doses of Niacin and within a short period of time was back to having dinner with her family, chatting happily — everything returned to normal. This was so powerful for me in realizing how big of an impact a nutrient deficiency could truly affect us. Foods rich in B6 include Garlic, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Spinach, Bananas, Red and Green Peppers, Hazelnuts, Cashews, Tuna and Cod.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant stress helping our bodies to cope with the free radical damage done to our bodies while in a stressful state and can help to reduce the amount of cortisol produced int eh body. Foods rich in Vitamin C include Red Peppers, Parsley, Kiwi, Broccoli, Strawberries, Raspberries and Cantaloupe.
Calcium and Magnesium:
These minerals are extremely calming to our nervous system and body. Deficiencies in these can aggravate anxiety, and magnesium is a very common deficiency. Foods rich in these include Kale, Broccoli, Sesame Seeds, Almonds and Maca.
Some products that I sell to help with Stress and Anxiety include:
Nettle and Oatstraw