This is Part Three of a three-part series on anxiety. Part Two gives you four anti-anxiety tips to calm the "alarm center" in your brain.
Did you know that physical stresses can make you anxious even though you may not realize they're affecting you? When you have irritable bowel symptoms, here are seven possible causes of anxiety: dehydration from diarrhea, toxic build-up from constipation, food allergies and intolerances, chemical sensitivity, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and shallow breathing.
Making a few lifestyle changes to deal with these stressors will give you good natural anxiety relief. In addition, they will help to relieve skin rashes and itching, headaches, and fatigue (not to mention digestive problems.) You'll typically have layers of anxiety, so the more possible causes you deal with, the better your chances of staying calm and recovering quickly from anxiety.
1. Drinking enough water is an excellent anxiety treatment whether you suffer from diarrhea or constipation.
With diarrhea, you want to make sure you replace the fluids you lose.
Dehydration is alarming to your brain and body and keeps you from feeling comfortable and relaxed. Adding a few drops of liquid minerals, such as Concentrace or Ion-Mag, to your water will help to replace any electrolytes you’ve lost because of diarrhea. As an anti-anxiety bonus, the magnesium in them tends to be calming. Soluble fiber will help to bulk up the stool and slow down transit time.
With constipation, water and soluble fiber will help to keep things moving through the bowel, preventing a build-up of toxins. Again, the liquid minerals are helpful.
Since we’re on the subject of liquids: How much coffee are you drinking? Or black tea, pop, and other caffeinated drinks? If it’s more than one cup a day, you’re not doing yourself any favours, anxiety-wise. In fact, some people find that cutting out caffeine is their most effective anxiety treatment. But you knew that, right?
2. Food sensitivities can make you anxious. That’s because some foods act as neurotoxins, meaning they affect the signals between your brain and body. Elaine Gottschall mentions a woman who reacted to gluten grains by barking like a dog in her sleep!!! Imagine how stressed this woman’s brain and nervous system must have been to trigger such an odd response. Once the gluten was removed from her diet, the barking stopped.
Okay, you don’t bark in your sleep. But if you are anxious, you need a calming diet without food allergens. The food that works best for your body is also important for natural anxiety treatment.
You can have food sensitivities without having classic allergies. Here are a couple of options for dealing with them. One is to be tested to find out exactly what foods you react to and take them out of your diet.
Or, if testing is not an option for you then start eliminating the top food allergens from your diet: dairy, sugar, wheat and other gluten-containing grains, peanuts, shellfish, soy, sulfites in conventional dried fruit and other processed foods, pork, citrus, caffeine, corn, yeast, and eggs, but especially the first three on this list. Remove foods one at a time, leaving at least a week between foods, so you can observe the effect of each one.
Chocolate causes problems for lots of people. If you get headaches or tend to crave chocolate compulsively, you could be reacting to chocolate. Try a magnesium supplement to help with the craving. The theobromine in chocolate will make you anxious and jittery (I know it did me) because it speeds up your heart rate. If you have diarrhea, chocolate is not your best friend.
Dairy is known to be a problem for people with IBS. When you continue to eat foods you react to, you will become more anxious because it’s very stressful for your body. With gluten, even if you’re not celiac, you have a one-in-three chance of reacting to grains with physical and emotional symptoms, according to Dr. James Braly. A recent German study found micro-inflammation in the mucosa of the bowel in IBS patients. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this is from reactions to foods or chemicals.
3. And speaking of chemicals, while most of us realize that chemical toxins and pollutants are linked to cancer, asthma, heart trouble and degenerative diseases, you may not know that they also trigger emotional problems including anxiety and depression.
The best thing to do is make sure your home environment is chemical-free, especially your bedroom. Sleep is the time your body renews itself, but that can’t happen if your bedroom is full of perfumes and scented products, room deodorizers, plastic bags, dry-cleaned clothes, mothballs, candles (unless they’re beeswax), paint, glue, solvents, particle board, new books and magazines, fresh newspapers or any other product with outgassing chemicals.
And, NO, the chemical toxins don’t stay in the bottle just because you have the lid on. Have you ever walked down the laundry products aisle in the supermarket? Notice that smell? Enough said.
By the way, the digestive system is quite sensitive to chemical toxins. So when you clear out your chemical products and buy natural versions, you will not only lower your anxiety levels, you will also help out your digestion. Definitely a win-win.