A Vegan Approach to Confronting Anxiety by Daud Scott, CHNP
As I was preparing for this particular segment on the power of vegan and whole-food plant-based sources to deal with the issues related to stress, mindset and anxiety control, I was actually able to meet with a lady who had only been vegan for two weeks. One of the first thing she noticed after the first week was, “How much calmer the mind was.” There were several reasons her mind was able to be calmer, which we will explain later on.
No matter what we eat, everyday life goes on around us. Being vegan doesn’t exclude someone from having to cope with the stresses of the world. Stress someway, somehow always remains a backdrop for the core issues that clients are dealing with when consulting for nutritional services and healing. The most prevalent type of stress that shows up is anxiety. This may be the most unseen, chronic stress factor, manifesting itself later in all types of harmful diseases that require assistance. A mind at peace with a healthy body is truly a completely healthy self.
When someone embraces the vegan path as a lifestyle, it is very important to know that our nutritional needs must be kept in check, and one of the most important reasons is for the proper maintenance of our brain and nerve functions. The brain and nerve functions are responsible for how we adapt and cope with anxiety, whether acute or chronic. Followers of the vegan path will be glad to know that there is good and supporting evidence that shows eating certain foods help with brain function to assist in the role of confronting anxiety. Holistically, I have found using the Four Fold Approach to dealing with anxiety gives long-term, sustainable results. The Four Fold Approach consists of: supplements, herb regimen (straight edge friendly), food healing and mindset exploration. All of these can be incorporated in no particular order, other than the fact that they should be worked on daily. Here is how we can use veganism to combat anxiety, cope with stress and get an edge on depression with natural, healthy and vital sources that seem to have no known adverse side effects.
[Note: the following is not a prescription, but may help you open conversations with your own mental-health care professional.]
The Four Fold Approach to Confronting Anxiety:
While supplements should not be the main source of someone’s diet, they can be helpful when used in the Four Fold method. One of the best natural supplements for confronting anxiety is chromium picolinate. A chromium deficiency has been known to produce some symptoms related to anxiety. Boosting the body with the necessary balance of chromium may be a part of the solution when it comes to how anxiety plays out in our lives.
I sometimes feel that the Straight Edge people I meet have an aversion to taking herbs. Not all herbs are psychotropic or cause addiction. There are many herbs that heal and tend to do so without any hardships. Taking skullcap and valerian root before going to bed at night can help with sleeping better and help prevent the panic attacks that come along when someone is dealing with excessive anxiety.
Food Healing Plan:
This is exactly the way it sounds: it means using food to heal the symptoms related to anxiety. Some of the best vegan foods to eat for this are: apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, blackstrap molasses, nutritional yeast, brown rice, dried fruits, figs, garlic, all leafy greens, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, food mushrooms, whole grains, and cayenne pepper. These foods are able to deal with the issues related to anxiety because they have the nutrients of: calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, b-complex vitamins, and vitamins, C, E, and zinc, which all support nerve and brain functioning. Eating a more whole-food vegan diet is less inflammatory than an excessively processed vegan diet. Less excessive inflammation means less chronic inflammation on the brain and nerves.
A lot of our anxiety is the result of trapped fear in the body, unresolved trauma that plays over and over in our mind, or our inability to ‘let go’ of a situation. Most of this is easier said than done, but there are accessible techniques. Masters of the ways of internal healing that can help us with confronting anxiety. Meditation, conscious movement, holistic therapy, and even doing mindful traveling just may be the missing piece as why our mind cannot settle into a peaceful state. The emotional state of health is one that gets overlooked almost all too often. Working on getting the mind to focus is the first step in dealing with anxiety. It is the first step in confronting what is real and false in our minds.
When you combine these four ways, it is hoped that one will start to see some relief with the symptoms of anxiety. However, this is not to be used in place of a therapist when the anxiety is on the extreme end and it causes someone to shut down. When this happens, it is necessary to seek professional help. But there is nothing stopping someone in the meantime with taking steps to better health the vegan way; both the body and the mind will be thankful for it.
With all love and hopes of health and wellness to you and your families,
Daud Scott is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner and is presently pursuing his licensure as a Certified Doctor of Traditional Naturopathy (N.D.) and is completing a separate PhD. in Alternative Medicine. Daud is the owner of Nature’s First Path, a Holistic Nutrition practice. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and son. To learn more about Daud’s approach to health and wellness you can visit him at: www.naturesfirstpath.com