Are you feeling anxious lately? Stress, whether in your relationships, work, or money-related, can interfere with your life. The stress of certain events and responsibilities cause anxiety.
But what a lot of us don’t realize is that what we put into our mouths also affects our mental health. Food fuels your brain. Your diet can help calm you down or trigger anxiety.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Let’s consider the gut-brain connection: The cells in your gut produce neurotransmitters that control your emotions. An unhealthy diet such as one that’s high in sugar creates inflammation in the gut. Inflammation hinders the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, which can make a person prone to anxiety and mood disorders.
Facts About Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the US aged 18 and above.
Many people who have anxiety also suffer from other disorders such as stress, chronic pain, migraine, and depression. When it comes to treatment options, conventional medicine is being used with complementary and alternative medicine to control anxiety symptoms. These complementary and alternative options may include functional foods and diets.
The Keto Diet: Does It Work?
If you’re unfamiliar with the ketogenic diet, it’s a diet where a person eats more fats, very little carbohydrates, and moderate protein in order to achieve ketosis.
On a regular diet, your cells produce energy mainly from glucose. Glucose comes from the carbs you eat. When you lower your intake of carbs and increase fat, your body will start to produce ketones. Ketones become your energy source instead of glucose.
Since the 1920s, the keto diet has been used on epileptic patients who are resistant to treatment. Nowadays, many people use it to lose weight or manage diabetes. But does the keto diet work help with mental disorders, specifically anxiety?
The answer is yes. In a study that involved male rats, results showed that those who were given the keto diet had reduced anxiety. They became more sociable and spent less time immobile.
How the Diet Alleviates Anxiety
The keto diet stabilizes your mood by lowering your sugar intake and increasing your fat intake.
Too much sugar in the diet puts your blood glucose on a roller coaster ride. That’s because insulin tries to bring back your blood glucose to a normal range. Even if you feel good eating those desserts initially, that blood glucose roller coaster will leave you feeling irritable, tired, and more stressed.
On the other hand, eating more fat, specifically healthy fat (omega-3 fatty acids), helps your brain function better. Brain signals move smoothly since a large percentage of your brain is composed of fat.
Simple Tips for Keto Success
If you’re ready to start a ketogenic diet to feel less anxious, here’s what you need to remember:
- Limit your carbs to 20-50 g per day. This works for most people.
- Include MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil in your diet. It contains three types of fatty acids that calm your nerves.
- Focus on good fats such as salmon, tuna, sardines, avocado, and olives.
- Get rid of processed foods to increase your abundance of healthy gut bacteria.
- Test for ketosis. Use urine, breath, or blood testing.
- Exercise regularly to ease your transition into the keto diet. Exercise increases your ketone levels.
When Keto Isn’t for You: Tapping for Anxiety
While a ketogenic diet helps with anxiety, not everyone responds well to it. Some people have trouble reducing carbs or have a pre-existing condition that contraindicates with the diet. Having a very active lifestyle may also require more carbs for performance.
Tapping is another effective tool that works for stress and anxiety. Stimulating meridian points while making simple statements, helps restore your energy balance, and soothe your emotions.
Here’s how to get started: Notice the negative emotion at the present moment. Rate your stress from a scale of 1-10. After that, you can now start tapping on each meridian point 5-7 times. Begin with the karate chop point or side of your hand while saying this setup phrase: “Even though I feel anxious because of [problem], I accept myself.” Repeat this statement 3 times.
You can now proceed to tap on the other points:
- Eyebrow: All this anxiety
- Side of the eye: This responsibility
- Under the eye: I’ve been feeling anxious for too long
- Under the nose: This work is unbearable
- Chin: This heavy burden
- Beginning of the collarbone: This anxiety is making me sick
- Under the armpit: It’s too much
- Top of the head: All this anxiety
After going through all the points, take a deep breath. Imagine letting go of all the anxiety as you exhale. Finally, rate your anxiety level. Did it go down? Keep tapping until you’re feeling better.
Many factors cause anxiety. These include your relationships, work, and even food. A ketogenic diet reduces anxiety by lowering sugar intake and eating more healthy fat. Alternatively, you can use EFT or tapping. It’s simple, and it effectively calms you after a few minutes.