Most of us realize that stress is not good for us, but it’s become such a normal part of our existence that many people don’t take the time to address it. However, if you knew that regular stress left unchecked can increase your risk of dying from heart-related problems by 500%, would you be more motivated? Too much stress also ups your likelihood of developing dementia by 65%, increases risk for both obesity and breast cancer, and doubles a man’s chances of developing diabetes.
Apart from psychological approaches to beating stress and anxiety, there are important nutritional changes that help to get you out of a constant state of anxiety and a tendency to over-react to stress. Making these changes will give you more clarity and energy to then deal with underlying life and psychological issues that generate anxiety.
Here are some nutritional changes that Patrick Holford recommends to help relieve daily stress and anxiety;
Eat a Low GL diet and supplement with chromium
The state of anxiety is associated with raised levels of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. When your blood sugar dips (often a rebound from blood sugar highs) this promotes the release of adrenal hormones, as do stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine. So, the first step towards reducing anxiety is to balance your blood sugar by eating a low GL diet containing slow-releasing carbohydrates eaten with protein and avoid or, at least considerably reduce, your use of both stimulants and alcohol.
The mineral chromium helps to even out blood sugar by making you more sensitive to insulin – that’s the hormone that keeps blood sugar level even. Holford has formulated Cinnachrome which contains high levels of Cinnamon extract, Chromium and Vitamin B3, which work together to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Quit stimulants and reduce alcohol
The reason we use stimulants is to increase adrenal hormones and the feel of energy and motivation. But the more you have the more you need until you can’t function without them. It takes a few days to recover your natural energy through eating a low GL diet and taking the right supplements.
Nicotine is another stimulant and therefore quitting smoking is key for reducing levels of anxiety, even though you may have become addicted in the first place because cigarettes help to you calm down.
Alcohol, at least for the first hour, is a relaxant because it switches off adrenalin by promoting GABA (main inhibitory or calming neurotransmitter) making it a highly effective way to unwind. But, similar to nicotine, the effect of using alcohol on a daily basis is the opposite. You become more stressed. Also, alcohol disturbs the normal dreaming cycle and the net effect is that you wake up more tired and irritable, in need of more caffeine in the day, then alcohol in the evening. It’s a vicious cycle.
Increase magnesium – the calming mineral
Magnesium is another important nutrient that helps you relax. It’s also commonly deficient and depleted by chronic stress, as is vitamin C. Magnesium not only relaxes your mind, it relaxes your muscles too. Symptoms of deficiency include muscle aches, cramps and spasms, as well as anxiety and insomnia. Good sources of magnesium are dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds (squash and pumpkin seeds), fish (Mackerel) and whole grains.