Last week I wrote about reading Dr. Ameet Aggarwal’s book Heal Your Body, Cure Your Mind and his suggestion to use daily exercises to relax your mind and help relieve physical and mental stress. Although these exercises can be a powerful tool for alleviating anxious thoughts and responses, we must also remember that there are still physical symptoms that can also need to be addressed.
In his book, Dr. Ameet also talks about the impact that inflammation can have on the human body, and mind. From disrupting your body’s natural hormone production to stressing important organs – such as the liver – inflammation can play a huge role in triggering general anxiety disorder.
There are many aspects of a person’s lifestyle that could create inflammation in the body but one of the most common is the foods that we eat. To put it as simply as possible, food allergies and intolerances can cause chain reactions within the body resulting in an intestinal imbalance. This imbalance can lead to leaky gut syndrome, where both food and bacteria end up penetrating the intestinal walls and “leaking” into the blood stream… leading to systematic inflammation*.
*For more information on leaky gut syndrome, check out this article by Dr. Christine Maren: https://drchristinemaren.com/food-allergies-and-sensitivities/.
In order to better understand what foods could be triggering allergenic affects in your body, there is a simple diet that Dr. Ameet recommends trying: The Hypoallergenic Diet. The purpose of the diet is to completely remove foods that have been shown to be allergenic for three weeks. Once your body has been able to rid itself of the effects of those foods, you begin to slowly introduce them back in, a little at a time. The idea is that you will begin to notice which foods may be triggering inflammatory effects in your body.
Some signs of inflammation in the body include (but are not limited to):
- anixety or depression
- skin rashes
- joint pain
- runny or stuffy nose
Below is the basic outline of the best known “allergenic” foods, as compiled by the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (with the help of many health practitioners):
- Tomatoes, corn, mushrooms, green peppers, red peppers, bell peppers, potatoes
- If there is potentially a ragweed allergy: artichokes, iceberg lettuce, sunflower seeds, dandelion, chamomile, and chicory
- All citrus (including acid-containing beverages)
- Strawberries, peaches, apricots, apples, bananas
- Dried fruits
- Gluten-containing grains (i.e. wheat, spelt, rye, oats, barley), pasta, cereals and pastry
- Soybeans and soy products
- Peanuts, pistachios, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and salted/flavored nuts and seeds
- Red meat and processed meat
- Refined oils, margarine, shortening
- Table salt (substitute with sea salt for the minerals and benefits)
- Nightshade peppers
- All sweetener products (includes also avoiding desserts, sugary drinks and processed foods that are high in sugar)
- if you need to use sweetener, substitute something such as stevia (green/brown, unprocessed) or unpasteurized honey
- Caffeinated beverages (with the exception of green tea)
- Any food containing additives, preservatives and coloring
If you are someone that is trying to naturally relieve anxiety, this diet could be a great stepping stone for you. However, it is important to be aware that, although the term “diet” is included, the point of this is not weight loss or food restriction. Part of building a healthy lifestyle is to develop a better relationship with food – that means realizing that food is fuel. The main purpose of this diet is to better understand what foods fuel your body in the right way, and the wrong way. It’s about starting back at the basics: keep it simple and focus on fresh.
I personally will be giving it a try these next few weeks to see what foods may be negatively affecting my body and my mind. I will be sure to report back soon.
If you have tried this elimination diet, comment below to share your thoughts!