Are there supplements that help with stress & anxiety?

January 4, 2022

Stress affects every aspect of our lives. A small amount can be good, but chronic stress will wear us out over time. Understand if your body is getting a healthy response to stress. This is important to keep you healthy and prevent significant threats over time.


If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you have probably wondered, “Are there supplements for stress?”. In this article, we will explore what supplements can help support your response to stress and anxiety, as well as which nutrients may help reduce your stress and anxiety symptoms.


There is a lot of buzz around probiotics flying about but what does that actually mean? You might have some questions - how to take probiotics when to take probiotics and the best time to take probiotics. 


While there are many reasons for anxiety, one of the most common is a lack of gut health. Gut health is directly linked to brain health: 80% of your serotonin is made in your gut and 95% of your brain's dopamine is made there too!


Gut health can be dramatically improved by consuming fermented foods. These foods contain healthy bacteria that help improve digestion, absorption of nutrients and mood!


A good diet forms the foundation and supplements build on diet


Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy does not make you feel more energetic. The foods that are high in protein and fat are much more effective at boosting your energy.


The question is, what happens when the rush of sugar from your candy bar or donut wears off? You’re going to feel tired again, and you’ll be likely to want another snack. That leads to a vicious cycle of highs and lows that has been linked to insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.


If you have a stressful job or other constant stress in your life, you need food that will give you long-lasting energy throughout the day. It should be packed with nutrients and fiber. A diet high in sugar and processed foods will only make you feel worse when the surge of energy from those foods wears off.


So what should I eat to support my supplements?

 

There are a few things that can help. But, Fiber and fermented foods are a good place to start.


Fiber is a carbohydrate that can’t be digested by humans, but our gut microbes sure can! Fiber helps feed the good bacteria in our guts. If you aren’t getting enough fiber, your microbiome might not be as healthy as it could be.


Now that you know about how fiber helps with stress and anxiety, it’s time to start eating more of it! Here are some high-fiber foods to start adding to your diet:


Vegetables – Eat a rainbow of vegetables every day, especially green leafy vegetables like spinach. And don’t forget the skins! These are high in fiber.


Fruits – All fruits have fiber, but berries contain more than almost any other fruit. A cup of raspberries has 10 grams of fiber!


Whole grains – Whole grains like quinoa and oatmeal are also full of fiber. The outer layer is where most of the fiber is located. So when you eat whole grains, make sure to eat them with their bran or hull intact.


Beans – Beans are full of fiber. Many people think they don’t like beans because they had a bad experience with gas or bloating when they ate them before, but slow cooking can help.


It’s also worth turning to fermented foods to support your supplements for stress:


Natural yogurt – a good quality probiotic yogurt with live cultures will help balance your gut flora and make it easier to absorb important nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins and zinc.


Good quality cheese or suitable plant-based alternatives (like miso or tempeh) - these sources of protein are also rich in healthy bacteria that can help reduce stress hormones.


Kefir – this ancient drink contains B vitamins, magnesium and calcium which all play a role in reducing anxiety symptoms.


Kimchi – Korean cultured dish with a spicy kick


So what’s the link between probiotics and stress relief?


There is a growing body of evidence that the gut microbiota plays a major role in health and disease. Although the mechanisms are not fully understood, there is increasing evidence that our microbes like variety and a diverse diet means you don’t miss out on any of the goods (like vitamins, polyphenols, minerals) that different foods have to offer.


The researchers found that supplementing with a combination of probiotics and prebiotics increased the amount of good bacteria in the gut (called fecal microbiota) which resulted in an improved mood when faced with stressful situations.*


"Our findings suggest that consumption of a synbiotic preparation containing Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 and fructo-oligosaccharides has beneficial effects on mood state in healthy women under stress,"​ they wrote in their study published in the British Journal of Nutrition​. "The findings further support the hypothesis that gut microbiota can influence brain function."*


What makes a good probiotic for stress? 


Good probiotic supplements should contain a wide range of different viable bacterial strains. Ideally, you want at least 5 strains and 10+ billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per capsule.


Some high-quality probiotics will also include prebiotics (like FOS) to help feed the probiotics so they are able to grow more effectively in your gut.


Another thing to look out for is the delivery method of the supplement. Probiotics can be delivered in capsules, tablets, powders and liquids. The most common delivery methods are pills or capsules since they are convenient and relatively inexpensive. Some people prefer to take granular probiotic powders mixed with water or added to smoothies for easier consumption.


These strains tend to be present in the gut naturally and can be found in foods such as yoghurt, but they are often killed during the cooking process. Other health supplements will also contain these strains, but they may not be as high a concentration or quality.


So how to take probiotics and when to take probiotics? 


The appropriate dose of a probiotic supplement depends on the strain, so it's important to look at the information on the packaging to see what is in each capsule, and how many capsules you will be taking per day. It is also important to note that you should take these supplements at least an hour before or after eating!


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