A Gut Check for Fashion Lovers: Your Gut Microbiome and Anxiety

12 Mood-Boosting Foods to Combat Anxiety (And 12 Culprits that Worsen it)

12 Anxiety-Busting Foods and 12 Anxiety Aggravating Foods

Image: How To Lower Cortisol Levels When You’re Feeling Stressed & Anxious Image by Javier Díez / Stock Published on October 3, 2023.

We all know that feeling when stress strikes and it seems like the world is crashing down on us. Interestingly, our gut bacteria can also feel the pressure, and boy, do they have a way of letting our brains know about it! It’s like they’re shouting out, “Hey brain, time to freak out!” when we’re stressed. This gut-brain connection operates through something called the HPA axis in our brain. Basically, stress triggers changes in our gut bacteria, which then send signals to our brain that we’re in distress. And what does our brain do in response? It releases cortisol, the ultimate anxiety-inducing hormone. It’s like a domino effect that just keeps piling up!

But fear not, fashion lovers! Your gut bacteria can also be your knight in shining armor, riding in to save the day from anxiety and depression. Researchers have discovered that certain bacteria strains, like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (they sound like spells right out of Harry Potter!), can actually combat the cortisol overload during stressful times. It’s like having a magical potion to reverse the anxiety-inducing effects of the HPA axis. Granted, the research was done on mice, but come on, it’s highly likely that our human bodies work similarly, right? Plus, they found that antidepressants can also swoop in and prevent cortisol from wreaking havoc in our guts. No wonder some people feel less nauseous after popping a pill!

Now, let’s talk about how you can nurture your precious gut microbiome and keep those anxiety levels in check. Ready for some gut-friendly fashion tips? Well, grab a spoon because here we go! Start by indulging in some unheated yogurt with active cultures and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha, and tempeh. It’s like giving your gut a runway show of goodness!

But hey, if you’re a picky eater like me, fret not! There are prebiotic-rich options too. Munch on some raw apples, asparagus, beans, bananas, artichokes, garlic, and onions – the ultimate fashion statement for your gut health. And don’t forget to consult a provider who can recommend the perfect probiotics tailored just for you. It’s like having a personal stylist for your gut!

But wait, before I go, let me give you a fabulous list of foods that can either become your anxiety-inhibiting fashion statement or make you the talk of the town (in a not-so-good way!). These foods can either calm your nerves or rev up your anxiety. Shall we have a look?

Foods that can improve anxiety:

  • Spinach and other leafy greens (folate helps produce dopamine)
  • Cashews (zinc to reduce stress) and Brazil nuts (selenium to improve mood)
  • Salmon (omega-3 fatty acids counteracting stress hormones) and oysters (zinc powerhouse)
  • Turkey (tryptophan for serotonin production)
  • Avocado (packed with B vitamins)
  • Dark chocolate (kiss cortisol goodbye!)
  • Kimchi, miso, and other fermented foods (probiotics to rock your gut)
  • Turmeric with black pepper (boosting serotonin and dopamine)
  • Chamomile (for those fashionable relaxing vibes)
  • Peppermint tea and green tea (keeping stress at bay with a touch of class)
  • Eggs (vitamin D and protein)
  • Berries (vitamin C repair kit)
  • Bananas (getting those B vitamins for serotonin production)
  • Oats (the serotonin superhero)

Foods that can contribute to anxiety:

  • Sugar (sweet and sour, a jittery disaster waiting to happen)
  • Artificial sweeteners (neuropsychiatric problems disguised as sugar substitutes)
  • Fried foods (corn and soybean oil – inflammation alert!)
  • Alcohol (spiking blood sugar and messing with serotonin)
  • Caffeine (fueling your anxiety fire while disrupting sleep)
  • Processed and prepackaged foods (inflammation overload for your poor gut!)
  • Gluten (hello, intolerance-induced anxiety and depression)
  • Dairy (a double-edged sword – inflammation booster and adrenaline pumper)
  • Sugary drinks and sodas (anxious symptoms in a can)
  • Foods high in trans fats/hydrogenated oils (inflammation factory, with frosting!)
  • Canned and plastic container foods (BPA villains that impact mood)
  • Sneaky food additives and dyes (anxiety, depression, fatigue – oh my!)

Remember, fashionistas, you don’t have to make a complete wardrobe change for your diet. Just start by adding a few trendy pieces to your meals. A protein-packed breakfast can work wonders for stabilizing your blood sugar and uplifting those neurotransmitters in your brain. It’s all about putting those whole, unprocessed, preferably organic foods on your plate. They’re the chic accessories that your anxiety won’t be able to resist!

I get it, eating healthy can feel like an exclusive boutique experience. Fresh and organic foods can be quite the splurge. But here’s the thing, any food that goes into your marvelous body is better than none. Embrace your individuality in choosing what works for you within your means. Opt for fresh and green whenever possible, and if that’s not always an option, make the best of what you have. Remember, being kind to yourself in how you nourish your body is always in fashion. There’s no such thing as the perfect diet – just like there’s no such thing as the perfect pair of jeans.

So, my stylish friends, let’s take a moment to appreciate the wonderful relationship between our gut microbiome and fashion. Your gut can be your anxiety’s worst nightmare or its best-dressed companion. The choice is yours, and with a few mindfully chosen bites, you’ll be strutting your stuff with confidence, inside and out.

Excerpt from the new book Generation Anxiety: A Millennial and Gen Z Guide to Staying Afloat in an Uncertain World by Dr. Lauren Cook published by Abrams Image ©2023

Now, my lovely readers, it’s time for a little fashion chat! What are your go-to gut-friendly foods? Which food faux pas have you discovered that make your anxiety go through the roof? Share your thoughts and let’s keep this stylish conversation going!