How to Manage Stress and Anxiety Through A Healthy Lifestyle Using Nutrition and Supplements

In today’s society, everything is moving faster and faster. We work, eat, and at best do some physical activity, but certainly without properly connecting our minds to our bodies. However, we are always “connected” to our smartphones instead of an actual human or to nature. We are stressed, sometimes even depressed without knowing why or how we got there. Throughout our lives nobody really gave us the keys to detect mental issues, or slow down and nurture our own needs. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States (18% of the population).

Our alimentation and lifestyle have a direct impact on our mood and mind… and gut! Let’s never forget them, our bacterias and microorganisms living in symbiosis with us. Our second brain, we say… Indeed, the gut-brain axis has garnered growing interest due to its huge importance in health concerns like anxiety, depression or cognitive issues. About 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the lining of the gut. Researchers are examining the potential of probiotics for treating both anxiety and depression.

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can, through our alimentation (pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir), get into our intestine and serve their purpose by delivering key health benefits. A good microbiota helps your immune system, gives you essential vitamins and molecules and certainly helps you.

Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacterias in our gastrointestinal tract. Fiber (prebiotic) is the main source of food of our microorganisms. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and food rich in fiber. Colorful fruit and vegetables will provide  polyphenol which also helps your gut. 

Bitter food – stimulates the growth of healthy gut bacteria – Herbs- dandelion root, chicory root, horehound, coriander, dill; Food – kale, arugula, chicory, dandelion greens, radish, horseradish, endive, radicchio, bitter melon, brussel sprouts, cranberries, mustard greens, white asparagus, cabbage, rhubarb.

Specific nutrients

  • Magnesium: Leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard, legumes, nuts (almond), seeds (pumpkin seed), and whole grains, banana, and dark chocolate (cacao nibs)…
  • Zinc: Shellfish, poultry, nuts, legumes, seeds, dairy, and eggs
  • Omega 3: Fatty fish, nuts and seeds, flaxseed oil, and canola oil
  • Vitamin Bs: Dark greens, dairy, egg, fish, and poultry.

Which Carbs?

Always choose complex carbs vs simple (refined) carbs. You metabolize them more slowly and therefore help maintain a more consistent  blood sugar level, which creates a calmer feeling. It also provides more fiber and nutrients. 

Get plenty of Antioxidants through your alimentation, mainly through a diversity of colorful fruit and vegetables:

  • Fruits: Dragon fruit, apples, pomegranates, grapes, prunes, cherries, black plums…and berries (Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
  • Vegetables: Onions, garlic, kale, spinach, beets, radishes, broccoli…
  • Herbs & Spices: turmeric, ginger, thyme, sage, rosemary, and green tea
  • Algae: Spirulina

What should you limit?

Try to limit or avoid alcohol, caffeine, saturated fat, added sugar and processed foods. Instead, allow yourself a healthy treat like dark chocolate that is rich in magnesium, or a couple Brazil nuts rich in selenium and/or a chamomile infusion to reduce stress.

Incorporate mindfulness and activities that help manage stress and anxiety, such as yoga, meditation, swimming (water therapy), nature walks (forest therapy) and breathing exercises. Don’t forget that quality sleep is as important as being active every day. 

Increase your serotonin and dopamine level with food and activities like sports. Stay hydrated and feed your body and your microbiome. Schedule time every day for mindfulness activities to help you manage stress and anxiety!

Source:

Xu, Ying, et al. « Novel Therapeutic Targets in Depression and Anxiety: Antioxidants as a Candidate Treatment ». Current Neuropharmacology, vol. 12, no 2, mars 2014, p. 108‑19. PubMed Central, doi:10.2174/1570159X11666131120231448.

Ravindran, Arun V., et al. « Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) 2016 Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder: Section 5. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments ». Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie, vol. 61, no 9, 2016, p. 576‑87. PubMed, doi:10.1177/0706743716660290.

Boyle, Neil Bernard, et al. « The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review ». Nutrients, vol. 9, no 5, avril 2017. PubMed, doi:10.3390/nu9050429.

Pouteau, Etienne, et al. « Superiority of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 over Magnesium Alone on Severe Stress in Healthy Adults with Low Magnesemia: A Randomized, Single-Blind Clinical Trial ». PloS One, vol. 13, no 12, 2018, p. e0208454. PubMed, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0208454.

Young, Lauren M., et al. « A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and “At-Risk” Individuals ». Nutrients, vol. 11, no 9, septembre 2019. PubMed, doi:10.3390/nu11092232.

Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K., et al. « Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial ». Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol. 25, no 8, novembre 2011, p. 1725‑34. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229.

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