Anti-Aging: Supplements and Herbs Can Safely Ease Anxiety

istock_000005410551xsmall.jpgEveryone feels anxious now and then, but when it strikes without warning and lasts longer than a day or two, especially as we grow older, it’s a good idea to cut back on stress-inducing food and add calming foods, herbs and anti-aging supplements to your diet.

Although the source of anxiety is often one’s reactions to the simple stresses of life, it’s a fact that some common foods and even some supplements we rely on add to feelings of anxiety. Fortunately there are plenty of foods, herbs and anti-aging supplements that can help settle you down and promote calm. And we need some calm while we examine what’s triggering the anxiety.

Here are some tips about habits and foods that raise stress levels, and dietary changes, herbs and anti-aging supplements that help lower stress levels. If you’re on blood thinners or any medication, always check with your doctor before taking herbal teas or remedies:

  • Many medications have side effects that include anxiety and tension. If you can’t find it on the Internet, ask your doctor. And avoid like the plague all ‘recreational’ drugs, which often increase stress and lead to panic attacks.
  • This one’s a toughie: If you smoke, you know you reach for it when things are stressful. But its cumulative effects actually promote more physical stress — raised heart rate and blood pressure, and depleted vitamin C and minerals — which all adds to anxiety. Yes, we said it was a tough call — it’s up to you.
  • Caffeine is a big stress-producer. Everyone knows it’s in coffee and tea — even decaf — as well as colas and chocolate in any form. But it’s also in many over-the-counter remedies. Caffeine depletes vitamins and minerals too, so cut back on it, or cut it out completely. Switch to herbal teas known to promote relaxation, like chamomile, peppermint, lavender and lemon balm.
  • Salt, many spices, and food additives — thousands of them including MSG in all its forms — all negatively affect stress levels in our bodies which can migrate to our minds. If we’re shaky, we think we’re suffering a panic attack, but we’re really suffering from toxic overload and loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium and many other minerals, as well as vitamins. Switch to organically grown fruits and vegetables, cut back on salt and spices, and be sure to take daily anti-aging supplements that replace those lost minerals — especially calcium, potassium and magnesium — and all the basic vitamins.
  • Red meat is a big stress inducer. The hormones and antibiotics fed to the animals supplied to supermarkets are not good, and too much red meat is inflammatory all by itself, adding to the aches and pains of aging. Cut back, replace with organic chicken and fish, and switch to organically raised red meat when you do eat it.
  • Sugar and sweets are, like red meat, a common source of stress. Sugar releases beta endorphins which make us feel up — but then it wears off and we feel depressed. Mood swings can feel like or add to anxiety, and sugar also carries weight problems and long-term risks of diabetes. Search for raw, never-heated honey — it absolutely must never be heated above 98 degrees, otherwise its natural enzymes are destroyed and it’s not much better than sugar. It is easily digested, sweetens wonderfully, and doesn’t cause the low-blood-sugar ‘sugar blues’ we want to avoid.
  • There are many herbal remedies for anxiety, including kava, which has been well researched and shown to aid in relaxation without dulling your senses. Others include valerian root, California poppy and passionflower. Lemon balm relieves tension and helps you sleep.
  • Hops, used to make beer, has been approved in Europe for treating anxiety, restlessness, and sleep disorders. That doesn’t mean drinking beer is recommended for anxiety — there’s a healthier way to get the hops. They’re combined in some homeopathic remedies with other calming herbs such as chamomile and passionflower, a safe, no-side-effect alternative to prescription drugs that should be on everyone’s anti-anxiety, anti-aging supplement shelf.

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