The most common mental disorder among humans is ‘anxiety’. It is characterized by feelings of fear, dread, uneasiness that may occur as a reaction to stress or worry about current or future events.
Anxiety is more common in females than males and it generally begins before the age of 25. The physical symptoms of anxiety disorder are:
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest tightness
- Poor concentration and attention span
- Suicidal ideation
Studies have revealed that lifestyle intervention and dietary modifications along with counseling can improve the quality of life of affected individuals.
Each morsel of food you eat has an impact on your physical as well as mental health. Having a healthy mind is important for a healthy body and a happy life. Your mood and mental state can have an effect on your hormones and physical well-being.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Here are some natural ways and home remedies for managing anxiety:
Scientific evidence has revealed that consumption of black chokeberry helps in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. This berry is an abundant source of plant compounds that possess various medicinal and therapeutic properties.
Daily consumption of the black chokeberry juice helps in relieving stress and anxiety, observed a scientific study. Such an anxiolytic effect of the black chokeberry juice is attributed to the presence of anthocyanins in it.
Anthocyanins are plant compounds that cross the blood-brain barrier and localize in different regions of the brain. In the brain, anthocyanins act like benzodiazepines, drugs that induce a calming effect and relieve anxiety.
An added benefit of black chokeberry juice over anti-anxiety drugs is that it comes without any adverse effects on the body. Hence, daily consumption of black chokeberry juice can be beneficial for individuals with anxiety and mood disorders.
The anti-obesity effects of green tea are very well known, but besides this, green tea is also effective for those with anxiety disorders. L-theanine is a component of green tea that helps one to relax and get rid of anxiety.
L-theanine increases the activity of GABA in the brain, that acts to calm the central nervous system. It further increases the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood and positive feelings.
Therefore, drinking a cup of green tea daily can make you feel relaxed and induce a feeling of happiness and overall well-being.
Consumption of dark chocolate may beneficially impact the metabolism of people who experience high levels of stress and anxiety.
Studies have discovered that daily consumption of dark chocolate for 2 weeks can help in relieving stress and anxiety in affected individuals. The physiological indicators of anxiety are:
- Accelerated heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Rapid pulse rate
- Rapid respiratory rate
The high flavonoid and arginine content of dark chocolate helps in declining high blood pressure through dilation of blood vessels.
Moreover, it helps the body and the mind to relax and brings back the heart rate and the pulse rate to normal range.
Consumption of dark chocolate also stimulates the release of endorphins, that enhance mood and appetite and produce a feel-good sensation. In other words, eating dark chocolate produces comforting effects on the emotional state.
Research has further found dark chocolate to be a good source of magnesium. Magnesium increases the activity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that transmits signals of happiness and satisfaction in the central nervous system.
Though ingesting dark chocolate provides mood-lifting benefits, it is advised that one should eat dark chocolate in limits. Anything in excess is unhealthy for the body.
Human studies have suggested that chamomile is an excellent anti-anxiety and anti-depression agent. The flavonoid constituent of chamomile produces anxiolytic activity by increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters induce a feeling of happiness, satisfaction and overall well-being.
How to use chamomile
- Have a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed. This will help you in getting a good night’s sleep.
- You can add chamomile flowers in your bowl of salad.
- Keep sipping chamomile infused water at regular intervals.
- You can even add chamomile flowers to a glass of fresh lime water.
Intake of probiotics helps in the colonization of healthy bacteria in the gut. The gut microbiota plays a critical role in the neurophysiological symptoms like stress, anxiety and depression, reveals a research.
Gastrointestinal inflammation induces anxiety-like behavior. A study found that administration of probiotics can reduce anxiety scores and improve anxiety status.
Having healthy gut microbiota reduces the release of stress causing hormones and increase the action of brain neurotransmitters that induce a feeling of euphoria.
Because gut health is connected to the brain health, having a healthy gut may help in improving brain health and mental status.
Below is the list of some healthy probiotic foods:
- Kombucha tea
This golden herb possesses various medicinal properties. Evidence suggests that regular use of turmeric helps in maintaining healthy emotional and mental health.
Curcumin, an active compound present in turmeric is responsible for preventing anxiety disorders and promoting brain health.
Individuals with anxiety disorders have low levels of antioxidant in their body. They more prone to free radical attack, which can damage and destruct the brain cells.
Turmeric is an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. It neutralizes the free radicals and blocks the action of pro-inflammatory compounds. Thus, it exerts a protective effect on the brain.
Studies have even observed that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and anxiety disorders is low in a country like India, where turmeric is used extensively.
Curcumin increases the brain production of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that fights anxiety and helps in maintaining proper brain health.
Hence, adding turmeric to gravies, soups, milk and teas on a daily basis can be beneficial for your mental health.
The following lifestyle modification can help to reduce anxiety.
Cut off Sugar from Your Diet
Refined sugar is the culprit of various physical and mental conditions. A diet high in sugar increases anxiety, says research.
Long-term intake of sugar impairs the ability of your body to cope with stress. Hence, it worsens symptoms of anxiety in individuals who already suffer from panic attacks.
High sugar intake may not be the actual cause of anxiety, but it can trigger anxiety spikes. Therefore, cutting off sugar may be healthy and beneficial for the brain and overall mental health.
Replace refined sugar with healthy options like:
- Coconut sugar
- Raw and organic honey
- Powdered Jaggery
You can even replace chocolates and other sweets with dark chocolate, fruits and dried fruits. But make sure these healthy options are consumed in limited amounts.
Exercise has a beneficial impact on physical and mental well-being. It is important in the treatment of people with anxiety and stress disorders.
A study found that exercise can improve anxiety symptoms in people without established anxiety disorders.
Exercise increases the release of endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. These brain chemicals produce an analgesic effect by activating the body’s opioid receptors. They exert a relaxing effect on the mind and the body. They further uplift the mood and make one feel happy and content.
Moreover, exercising regularly decreases anxiety sensitivity and increases self-efficacy and self-esteem. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals must perform 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.
Exercise doesn’t just improve anxiety, but it also boosts heart health in affected individuals.
Quit Cigarette Smoking
Scientific reports have revealed that smoking rates are higher in anxiety-disordered populations. Cigarette smoking negatively affects certain regions of the brain that connect to fear response areas. This may result in increased anxiety.
The entry of nicotine to the brain may decrease the release of neurotransmitters. Such a drop may further reduce a feeling of euphoria and satisfaction. This gives rise to anxiety and affects the mood negatively.
Smoking is further associated with the impaired serotonin function. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps the mind to relax and it uplifts mood and appetite. If serotonin does not function properly, it may give rise to anxiety, mood swings and decreased appetite.
Another mechanism via which smoking can affect brain health is by the generation of free radicals and pro-inflammatory compounds. These compounds down-regulate the action of neurotransmitters, which is associated with increased depressive and anxiety symptoms.
Mobile Device Addiction
High frequency of mobile phone use can cause symptoms of anxiety and depression, sleep disturbances and stress.
It causes an imbalance in the neurotransmitter release and gives rise to symptoms of anxiety. Individuals who are addicted to mobile phone use have low activity of GABA in the brain. Such a low activity can affect the mood and lead to depression.
Individuals with a disturbed sleep pattern are at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Irregular sleep pattern further causes dysfunction of the neurotransmitter systems, that can give rise to anxiety.
Hence, it is suggested that mobile phone can be used, but being spending an excess time on it or being addicted to it can affect the quality of life.
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