Something I wanted to talk about real fast was anxiety and some very real potential causes of it.
And mind you…I have no idea where this post is going to end ultimately. Lets see, shall we?
*This is in no way intended to diagnose, treat or cure anxiety, nor is it intended to be a catch all explanation for every single type of anxiety one may experience. This is not meant to dismiss the very real struggle of anxiety that many people face, to blame or shame people who experience anxiety and treat it with the help of a medical doctor, or dismiss the severity of it*
With that out of the way, these truly are just some of my thoughts, mostly from first hand experience, of other reasons for why one might experience anxiety in the body. There are many reasons for experiencing anxiety, to name a few: depression, PTSD, insecurity, fear, trauma, grief, chemical and hormonal imbalance, spiritual oppression, and (what we are here to talk about) food allergies.
Did you know that food allergies can cause anxiety?
Not only food allergies, but even food sensitivities can often be experienced in the body as anxiety, as physical unrest. You can feel like you cant catch your breath, your whole body can be shaking, you can feel physically sick to your stomach, you can feel your extremities pulsate, your body can get hot, you can begin to sweat, you feel adrenaline pumping through your body, you can feel your heart beat, your heart can begin to race, your blood pressure might elevate, you you can get confused and dizzy, you can even feel like you’re starting to go crazy and feel panicky, along with many, many other symptoms…
There are a host of symptoms out there of food allergies and sensitivities, however we are only discussing the ones that fall into the anxiety category.
Now if you are experiencing any of these regularly, I would consult a trusted doctor…but I would also stop and seriously consider whether or not you are experiencing food allergies. And I would ask your doctor about potential allergy tests. Not all allergies are going to fall under the category of getting a rash, hives, or going into anaphylactic shock. And many people now know that allergies and sensitivities can also manifest as things such as eczema, migraines, and digestive dysbiosis, but it’s not always considered that symptoms of anxiety can be caused by hidden food allergies and sensitivities.
And yes. These symptoms listed are ones I personally have experienced, and have known other people to experience, after consuming foods they were sensitive or allergic to. Our bodies are extremely sensitive, and if we tune our minds to listen, we can hear all sorts of things our bodies are trying to tell us.
Now not all allergy tests are going to give you the results you need. Because an allergic reaction is an immune response to a protein that has entered the body that is deemed as a threat, you may have reactions to substances that are NOT proteins, or they may be reactions that are not considered ‘allergic’ responses, as defined by western medicine.
So what is actually happening in the body when you have an ‘allergic ‘ or ‘sensitivity’ reaction? Its not that big of a deal, right?
Well simply put, when a foreign invader comes into the body, and your immune system flags it as ‘dangerous’, it will mount an attack by ringing the alarm, and putting your body into a fight or flight state, or a ‘sympathetic’ state. Your blood vessels will dilate allowing for white blood cells to quickly access the area ‘under attack’, when this occurs it is known as inflammation. This puts tremendous strain on the body, as it forces the heart to beat faster to pump blood faster to respond to the threat, it causes your body to pump adrenaline in order to get your body ready for quick responses, and it shuts down secondary organ and system function in order to put all energy into fighting off and responding to the threat. Your body will ‘remember’ the foreign invader, and will respond similarly the next time it encounters the substance.
The key here to pay attention to is the role stress plays on the body. It’s not an exaggeration to say that stress can actually kill you, as it wears your body down, keeping you in a fight or flight mode, disabling your bodies ability to recover and heal, turning your digestion and detox systems off, slowly causing you to decline into poor health and disease which is a trajectory that will lead to the mental breakdown, body systems failing, and death.
The reason I bring up stress here is that its easy to forget, and many do not even know, that allergic and sensitivity reactions cause stress to the body. And if we are continually in a state of stress, it will ruin us.
That is why food allergies and sensitivities, even when our symptoms are ‘mild’, are serious. They can and often do lead to more severe symptoms and altogether new symptoms as well that crop up down the road if unchecked.
And while we’re on this note, I do want to quickly mention that even our mindset towards our symptoms and towards our health can play a huge role in how we are doing. If we are terrified of getting sick and getting a disease, or (in my real case) if you are terrified that everything you eat will mess up your digestion and you won’t be able to heal and that everything will make your body feel anxious, then you likely will have a self fulfilling prophecy and these things will come true.
Now don’t for a second take that out of context and think I am saying you can think your way to health or think your way out of a disease. But what I AM saying is that sometimes when we are knee deep or even drowning in health issues and we are terrified and afraid that nothing will ever change or get better and that there is no hope, then there is a good chance that nothing ever will change or get better. We have to have hope, and hope has physiological affects on our bodies.
In our culture we are all about being in a hurry and being busy. But look what it is doing to us.
We have to know and remember that our bodies are not computers. We are living, breathing vessels that tire out and require nutrition, peace, calm, and rest in order to repair and restore. When we treat our bodies like machines that just need a little bit of oil and a whip to keep moving faster, we neglect how our bodies were intended to function and the rest and nutrients they require.
They don’t just need more protein.
They don’t just need caffeine.
They don’t just need sugar.
And they certainly don’t just need ‘sleep’.
They need rest. Rejuvenation. Peace. Calm. Nutrients. And countless things more.
Back to food allergies and sensitivities. I spent most of my life carelessly eating as I wanted and neglecting the needs of my body. I am still to this day guilty of not stewarding my body as I ought to. What can I say…We are products of our culture. And I am paying for it with allergies and sensitivities that I never took seriously, stemming from many things in my life…one of them being unchecked stress. But you can check out my bio for more on that.
See its a vicious cycle, stress can lead to allergies, and allergies lead to stress, which lead to more severe issues and a decline in health.
Ok so what do we do?
Well if food allergies are what we suspect, if we are experiencing these anxiety symptoms, then we need to eliminate the threats.
Yes, that means an elimination diet. Of sorts. If you know there are certain foods you have a history of issue with, these definitely need to go. I would also consider the most common foods that people have issues with, being gluten and dairy. However, while neither of these are in my personal diet I still struggle in this area… so…
The real crux is that it could be anything.
And because it could be anything, the best way to know is to do an elimination diet. You can start with a few different diets, and I would recommend the GAPS diet, AIP diet, paleo diet, or the carnivore diet. I pick these four because they eliminate the most potential allergen foods:
- Paleo removes grain, dairy, eggs, and most processed foods.
- AIP removes grains, dairy, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, vegetable oils, added sugar, and all processed foods.
- Carnivore diet removes everything but meat and animal byproducts.
- GAPS removes everything. Haha. Just kidding…but not really. It is the most extreme of the elimination diets, and for severe mystery allergies, is the most recommended as it is a multi step process and makes sure you figure out what is going on and maximize healing.
And there’s really any combination thereof that you could try, but only you know what your body needs and in time you’ll feel a drastic change as your symptoms lessen and disappear (if they are indeed because of an allergy or sensitivity). Keep in mind that all of these diets are designed to have a reintroduction phase, where you reintroduce foods slowly to figure out which ones you are having issues with. So just because you give up cheese, doesn’t mean it will be forever. And you’ll probably find a lot of other wonderful outcomes as well when you switch to an elimination diet. In fact I can all but guarantee that changing your diet will in fact change everything.
And of course when it comes to handling anxiety in natural ways, there are countless things one can do to help. Lifestyle change, calming teas, Chinese herbs and medicine, roots and tinctures, yoga, extra (or enough) sleep, restful evenings, reading good books, spending time with friends who you feel safe with, petting animals, blowing bubbles, and last but not least…
We must also always consider additional supplements to our diet such as
- Minerals: they affect your cardiovascular health, your nervous system, your blood pressure, your muscles, and many other body systems. I often feel like I am ‘glitching’ when I do not have enough minerals in my system.
- Adrenal glandulars/adaptogens: Your adrenal glands regulate how your body handles stress. Taking glandulars and/or adaptogens is a huge way to support and protect your adrenals, helping them to do what they do best, which is regulating how your body handles stress and the creation and output of many, many hormones (out of whack hormones can be a sign of stress and adrenal fatigue as well).
But really though, at the end of the day this sounds fine and dandy but how do you make it last? How do you make it work?
You have to want it. And you have to be willing to see the purpose, weigh the benefits, and decide for yourself that you want it and are willing to sacrifice for your long term health and happiness.
But you aren’t alone. It is a scary journey, and I know how hopeless it can feel, how frustrating it can be to suffer with health issues and not know the answers. I am one that has traveled alone on that path, I understand. But you find friends along the way, people to support you and help guide you. And Jesus, the man of sorrows, understands what it means to suffer on this earth. And he can walk with us through our trials if we put our faith and trust in him. He is kind, gentle, and lowly at heart.
And that, my friends, is just one more way to look at and address anxiety. Among other things.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out. I love talking about this stuff, and am happy to pass along what I know.