Tried & True: Gluten-Free Anxiety Fix

I’m back! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Full disclosure: I’d been feeling a bit overwhelmed with life over the past few months, which meant my blogging fell by the wayside. Some stressors over the past year triggered heightened feelings of anxiety within me – the likes of which I’d never really experienced before.  If you’ve never struggled with unrelenting anxiety or panic attacks, you’ll likely have no idea what I’ve been through and to you I say, “Congrats and I hope you never do!”  But to the other 40 million adults in the US battling with anxiety, I understand your pain.  It’s devastating and can turn your life upside down.  I know because I’ve been living it day in and day out for the past 4 months.  That is, until recently, when I discovered a solution that is working extremely well for me.

I’m a firm believer that in order to be truly healthy, one must discover and heal the root cause of the problem rather than mask it with a quick-fix pill. I refused to take pharmaceutical SSRIs (have you read the studies on those things?!). So, I set out on a journey to learn as much as I could about the inner-workings of anxiety and what could be attributing to my downward spiral.

Since my daily meditations weren’t fixing my anxiety (note: meditation does help, but it wasn’t “curing” me by any means), I starting researching natural anti-anxiety supplements.  Inositol, a natural supplement that is supposed to be as effective as SSRIs, seemed to be a good option so I gave it a go for a couple months. Unfortunately, my anxiety continued to worsen and the inositol fatigued me to the point of pure exhaustion. I also tried Kava Kava supplements, which didn’t have much of an impact either. Multiple supplements, vitamins, and natural pills/powders later, I found myself further down the rabbit hole of anxiety without any real relief in sight. I felt completely defeated and also baffled by how quickly I seemed to lose control of my life. I was living every day in a fog of fear and anxiety.

At the start of the new year, I found my saving grace. I had discovered an article written by Dr. Kelly Brogan, a Holistic Psychiatrist, in which she discusses the detrimental effects of gluten and the positive use of probiotics in treating neurological disorders.  A light bulb went off in my brain. I’ve always considered myself a health-conscious eater, but I’d never paid much attention to the gluten-free trend. I figured since I don’t have celiac disease there was no way gluten could be negatively affecting me. …Right?  Wrong! There’s plenty of research linking gluten sensitivity to anxiety and depression and numerous testimonials of people who have cured their anxiety and depression by giving up gluten. It was around this same time that I’d purchased a book called The Antianxiety Food Solution by Trudy Scott who also highly suggests eliminating gluten. The more I delved into the relationship between gluten and anxiety, the less I could convince myself that gluten-sensitivity wasn’t a possible issue for me.

So, on January 1st, I completely cut gluten from my diet. It felt like a last ditch effort and I had little hope that it would actually work. Much to my surprise, I started to feel drastically better within a few days of going gluten-free.  I would go hours without feeling anxious (a rare feat in the previous month). I was able to enjoy life again! And since I couldn’t eat bread or other gluten-filled foods, I found myself eating a lot more vegetables and protein.  It was exactly what my body needed, a healthy, whole foods diet. Within 2 weeks, I was feeling 75% better. Not only did my mind feel better, but my whole body felt better.

I’ve been gluten-free for 24 days now and I’m feeling better than ever. I’m 90% there! I’m beyond grateful for people like Kelly Brogan and Trudy Scott who are spreading awareness and knowledge on how to naturally overcome anxiety.  It’s been a whirlwind these past few months, but I’m actually grateful for this rollercoaster of a journey. I’ve learned so much about myself, nutrition and listening to my body. I can’t wait to share more healthy living tips with you in 2016.  Cheers to a happy, healthy year!

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert. If you struggle with severe anxiety or depression, please consult your doctor for help. That being said, I also encourage you to self-educate as much as possible. If you are interested in exploring the scientific link between gut inflammation and neurological issues, some helpful resources are listed below in addition to the links above:

The Brain on Fire: Inflammation and Depression – Psychology Today
Gluten Sensitivity Doesn’t Only Involve the Gut – Dr. Perlmutter
Probiotics as Antidepressents – Prevention
Antianxiety Food Solution: caffeine, gluten, sugar and real food – Trudy Scott
Is Gluten Making You Depressed? – Psychology Today

7 comments

  1. Sally Forster says:

    This is wonderful that you have found things you can do to lower your anxiety. My doctor encouraged me to go gluten-free because I have always had GI issues, and an ALCAT food sensitivities test confirmed what she already suspected.

    And yes, I agree, Trudy Scott has great suggestions in her book and in her online class. Anyone dealing with anxiety and/or depression should do themselves a favor and read her book and materials on her website. I will be bold and state you should do this BEFORE talking to your doctor. My former doctor misdiagnosed me and sent me into medically-induced overactive thyroid and sent my anxiety and depression to all new extremes! He thought that a slightly evaluated TSH and my panic attacks would benefit from even more stimulation! He ignored the fact that I’ve had adrenal issues- which are a contraindicator to prescription thyroid. Learn from this case of medical malpractice because some doctors are asleep at the wheel.

  2. Lori F says:

    I completely understand and have lived through frustrating anxiety as well. Recently I started seeing a counselor who helped me see that my perfectionism was a major reason for the anxiety. In addition it is important to eat well.

    • Trudy Scott, Food Mood Expert and Nutritionist says:

      Lori
      I’d just like to add my thoughts on this…low serotonin can result in both perfectionism and anxiety so addressing the low serotonin can help eliminate both. Food changes like going gluten-free as Lauren discusses, plus adding quality animal protein and balancing blood sugar go a long way to help you make more serotonin. And then using the amino acid tryptophan can quickly provide relief.
      Trudy

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