When talking about anxiety, we are not talking about a rare disorder, but something that affects 85% of the world population, according to recent studies by Psychiatrist Augusto Cury.
Anxiety is a biological characteristic of human beings, which precedes moments of real or imagined danger. In this context, many unpleasant symptoms appear, such as:
- Fainting sensation
- Chest pain and palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension and pain
- Sensation of having a “knot” in the throat
- Mental confusion
- Feeling of helplessness
These symptoms are not rare, a large part of the population has suffered from anxiety. And most people have difficulties following simple advice on this matter. However, a large part of this difficulty is linked to the lifestyle we lead, especially when it comes to food.
Cortisol is your stress hormone; the same that triggers anxiety. This hormone needs to be in balance with serotonin, which is responsible for happiness. The ingested food plays a fundamental role in the amount of these hormones circulating in the bloodstream.
Our nutritional patterns has undergone many changes over the last few decades. Many are claiming lack of time as the main reason. Commuting time has increased, which forces many to leave their homes without having the first and most important meal of the day: breakfast. Many meals have been taken outside the home, forcing people to eat what they find and not what they often want.
Commitments beyond work have also increased, and often due to the difficulty of planning and managing time, the last meal is eaten late at night. The body is forced to work to complete digestion when it should be involved in regeneration processes. It is during the first sleep period that your body works to reduce cortisol. A late night meal rich in protein and fatty foods interferes with cortisol control. And, the only certainty we have is that the next day our anxiety level will be higher.
Our evening meal should be as close to sunset as possible, remembering that during summer the sunset is later and the last meal should be taken at least two hours before bedtime. At the last meal, we should prioritize the consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates, for example, fruits, oats or granola, toast and soups made from tubers or roots. Also be careful with the quantity.
Serotonin, the hormone that controls cortisol and consequently controls anxiety, is produced in the morning until 9 am. It is essential to eat foods that are rich in tryptophan at breakfast, as this is the raw material used by the body to produce this happiness hormone.
Include some of the following foods in your breakfast:
- Oats or granola
- Chickpeas, can be in the form of hummus
- Soybeans in the form of milk or tofu (can be grilled or as a spread)
- Peanuts (in natura, as milk or peanut butter)
- Cashew nut
- Brazil nuts
- Almonds (to be eaten fresh, as milk or as ricotta)
- Brown rice (can be in the form of sweet rice)
Of those foods above, include two to three sources. Never eat more than one source of nuts at a meal so that there is no excess fat.
The inclusion of these foods will give the body the opportunity to produce serotonin, but it is essential to exclude foods that increase cortisol from the menu, or all the effort will be in vain.
Stop consuming the following foods, that include stimulants:
- Coffee (even the decaf)
- Green, black, red, yellow and white teas as well as mate tea (these are obtained from two plants called: Ilex paraguariensis and Camellia sinensis.)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Cola soft drinks
These stimulants impair serotonin production and increase anxiety. Some may say that when they make use of these they feel better. Beware, this is a warning sign, as you may already be suffering from an addiction.
Some important considerations about serotonin production:
- The intestine is the production site of serotonin, so it is important that it is working properly. Consume whole foods, fruits and vegetables. Increase your water intake. Remove refined foods from your table.
- Sunbathing in the morning increases the stimulus for serotonin production, 20 minutes would be enough to bring this benefit.
- The practice of physical exercise improves bowel function and even promotes greater production of serotonin when performed in the morning. Put on some sneakers and go out for a walk early in the morning. You will find that your day will be different.
- A good night’s sleep helps control cortisol levels and prevents it from damaging the production of serotonin. Your efficiency will be better if you can sleep before 9:30 pm.
These recommendations are not intended to replace the use of medications or a consultation with a specialist, but they will help you to better deal with anxiety and the doctor will be responsible for reducing your medication or even taking you off, if he sees fit.
Food can have a powerful influence on our minds. Getting at least 15 minutes of exercise in the sun during the morning hours, going to bed early and adapting to the correct diet can help a lot in controlling anxiety. Help your brain and make the needed lifestyle changes today!
Banana Oat Mufffins
- 2 cups oat flour
- 2 bananas
- 1 Tbs psyllium
- 1 Tbs dry yeast
- 2 Tbs honey
- a pinch of salt
- Dissolve the yeast in warm water and one spoon of honey for 10 minutes.
- Hydrate the psyllium seeds in warm water and stir until it dissolves.
- Mix the oat flour with the rest of ingredients, adding about 1 cup of water until reaching the desired consistency.
- Grease the muffin forms and pour the dough until half of the form.
- Let it rise until it doubles in size.
- Bake at medium heat for about 30 minutes.
Peanut Oat Cookies
- 3 cups oats
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- Beat the peanuts in a blender with a little water to form a cream.
- Pour into a bowl and put the remaining ingredients, mix well.
- Make cookies in the format you want.
- Bake in moderate heat until golden brown.
Sugar Free Granola
- 5 bananas
- ½ cup peanuts or almonds
- ½ cup raisins
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 coconut
- 2 cups quick oats
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- ½ cup ground sesame seeds
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 4 apples
- Put into a bowl the oats, with the ground sesame and flaxseed.
- Grate the coconut or shred it in the food processor.
- Blend 2 apples with a little bit of water and the 5 bananas. Mix with the rest of ingredients, so that the oats just get slightly damp.
- Spread out on 2 baking sheets, so that it results in a fine layer.
- Bake on low heat for about 1 hour until brown, stirring every 15 minutes. It may be still slightly humid, but after cooling down it gets crunchy.
- Cool down and add raisins and nuts. If desired, add some sugar free corn flakes.
- Keep in a jar with tight lid in order to maintain crunchy.
- 1 cup oats
- 2 Tbs tapioca flour (sweet)
- 1 Tbs Brazil nuts
- 1 Tbs flaxseed
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ tsp saffron
- Blend all ingredients.
- Pour a fine layer in a pre-heated non stick frying pan.
- Wait until the pancake comes off and flip it over.
- Let it brown at the other side.
- Fill with your preferred filling.
- 1 cup soy beans
- 2 lemons
- Soak the soybeans for 12 hours.
- Wash 3 times and rinse well. If you want, you can eliminate some of the skins that came off.
- Blend 1 cup of soybeans with 2 cups of water until it foams.
- Strain with a fine meshed cloth.
- Pour the milk into a pan and cook for 5 minutes on low heat after it gets to a boil, stirring frequently.
- If you desire a salty tofu, put 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Increase the heat and boil while stirring, until the milk is rising.
- Put the juice of 1 lemon for every liter of soymilk and give it a slight stir.
- Boil for 1 minute on low heat, turn off the heat and wait for another minute in order to curdle.
- Pour the curdled milk into a sieve and wait for the whey to drain.
- If you want a firm tofu, put a weight on top and leave for a few hours.
- 1 pineapple
- 2 cups tofu
- 3 Tbs cornstarch
- 5 Tbs honey
- 1 cup granola
- Blend the granola and mix with a little bit of water, until it binds.
- Grease a form and press the mass with your fingers on the bottom and the walls to form the crust.
- Peel a pineapple and cut in cubes. Keep a slice for decoration.
- Blend all ingredients, starting with the pineapple and adding tofu little by little.
- Pour over the crust.
- Season with lime zest and decorate with the pineapple slice.
- Bake on medium heat for 30 minutes or until brown.
- 1 cup chickpeas (hydrated)
- ½ cup dates
- ¼ cup cashew nuts
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1 slice avocado
- Soak the chickpeas for 12 hours.
- Reserve some of the soaking water, then wash and rinse the chickpeas.
- Blend 1 cup of chickpeas with 2 cups of water.
- Strain with a cloth.
- Pour into a pot and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Wait to cool down. Then add ¼ cup of the soaking water.
- Keep fermenting in a dark place, covered with a cloth, but not with a lid.
- Keep in the fridge until use, then blend with avocado, cashew nut and dates. If preferred, add a bit of honey.
- Serve if you like with a bit of granola.
Chickpea Flour Pancake
- 1 banana
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 2 Tbsp tapioca flour sweet
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp salt
- Blend everything with 1 cup of water.
- Pour the right amount into the skillet and spread with a spoon or spatula.
- Wait until golden and forming bubbles. Loose the pancake with the help of a spatula to flip it over.
- Let the other side brown.
- Use your preferred filling. Serve still hot.
- 9 oz chickpeas
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- Soak the chickpeas for 8 hours.
- Rinse and drain.
- Cook the chickpeas for about 20 minutes, until you are able to prick them with a fork.
- Pour the chickpeas with some of the cooking water into the blender.
- Add garlic and salt.
- Blend until forming a homogenous paste.
- With a sieve you remove excess water in order to form a thick consistency for a spread.
- If desired, add a bit of lemon and mix it under.
Ricardo Vargas de Andrade is a Nutritionist specialized in Emotional Management. He is an international speaker, and has already produced several programs for the Novo Tempo TV Channel.
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