I've always done case histories with my patients when they first come to the office. Back in the day, we would ask them about their anxiety. Do they have any anxiety symptoms? It was really a lot rarer back then. Today, it's pretty common, to the point that a full 40 million Americans have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That's 20% of our adult population, and it's getting worse. That's scary!
When we're talking about anxiety, it can be anything from generalized anxiety disorder to full blown PTSD and everything in between. Ultimately, it’s even affecting us physically. We can wind up with chronic fatigue-type syndromes, constant muscle tension, and pain in our body. Even insomnia may occur, where people can't fall asleep, or if they do fall asleep they have trouble getting back to sleep upon waking in the middle of the night. That's something I see all the time.
The real issue is what we're doing for it treatment-wise. The pharmaceuticals that are being used today are really hit and miss, at best. But the problem is that they all have side effects! You see, there's no such thing as a drug without side effects. Every drug is a toxin. I'm not saying there's not a time and a place to take these pharmaceuticals. I'm just telling you that every drug is a toxin. Nobody would argue that. That's why they have side effects, and unfortunately these side effects with these types of medications for anxiety and depression can be onerous.
And now, we know they increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease. Can you imagine that? Here, we have a medication that you're taking for your brain that increases your likelihood of developing Alzheimer's, the fastest-growing disease in our society today.
Well, here’s the good news. In my years of experience, I've seen natural things that not only work just as well, but don't have any side effects. The good thing is they often times will get to the root cause of why the person has anxiety to begin with. There's never been a medication that's going to address the root cause of your problem because you don't lack medications. That's not why we develop anxiety or things like depression.
But, when you do these two things that I'm going to tell you right now, and incorporate them into your life, if you're like most of our patients, you're going to see some really positive results.
This first one is probably something you've already heard about. We are a nation of couch potatoes, right? Whether it's the jobs we have, whether they're sedentary or whether it's being on a computer all day long or our smartphones, or we're watching television. A lot of us are just not getting the exercise or activity or movement in our lives that we need, that our body needs to be healthy.
The great thing about exercise is that there's so many different kinds. What I've found to be the most effective for the brain and for the hormones is something called high-intensity interval training (HIIT). There are all kinds of ways to do it.
If you're on a treadmill, instead of being like a gerbil on a treadmill where you're going for 60 minutes at the same pace, you're going to alter the pace of your workout, and it might only be 10 or 12 minutes long in total. Maybe even less in the beginning! How nice is that? You have an extra 50 minutes in your day to do other things that are going to be productive for you.
So here's how it works if you're on a treadmill: you warm up, get yourself loose, and then you increase the speed. You could increase the incline instead, or do a combination of both. You want to get to the point for 30 to 60 seconds that the exercise makes you breathless. Makes it difficult to talk. Your heart is beating rapidly, right? That type of intensity is going to do wonderful things for blood flow, for your hormones, and for your mind and body in general.
After that 30 to 60 seconds, you back it down again. Go back to that walking speed, and then you catch your breath. That will take about two minutes, and then you do it again. Another 30 to 60 second burst at higher speed or incline, then another rest.
To start with, you might only repeat this cycle 2-3 times. Over time, as you become more conditioned, you want to build that up to where you're doing six of these bursts each session. What's great is that you don't need to do this type of exercise every day. The hormone benefits that come from this will last for a good 36 hours after you're done. So, just do this type of exercise every other day!
Besides the exercise, you want to change what you're doing diet-wise. If we're going to talk about root cause, you can't get away from what I teach my clients all the time, which is that every symptom and every disease can be traced back to the cell level of our body. You see, our cells are our foundation. They're the building blocks. They're the smallest living unit of all of us. This is where all function takes place, and if you're suffering from dysfunction, it is a guarantee that your cells have been impacted negatively. They're damaged and inflamed, which is when you'll start to notice symptoms occurring.
So let's take it down to that cell level. The membrane of each cell is composed of two layers of fat. It's called a bilipid layer. That bilipid layer is where the good stuff gets in and the bad stuff gets out. It allows that cell to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, things like too much sugar, too many bad fats, and too many toxins in our life will damage this membrane. And if this is your brain cells, and your brain cells are inflamed, that is potentially going to cause things like brain fog, anxiety, and depression.
So, if we want to get down to that root cause level, we've got to affect the function of our cells, the health of our cells, and you're going to do that by stopping this consumption of too many bad fats and too much sugar, and we want to try and eliminate toxins as much as we can, too. There are definitely better choices you can make when it comes to your diet and anxiety.
Speaking of diet, you should know that the average American consumes 120 to 150 pounds of sugar per person, per year. Do you know there was a time when it was 5-10 pounds per family per year? You can see just how off the charts that we are, and that doesn't include the artificial sugar! A lot of these artificial sugars are neurotoxins, meaning they damage our brain whenever these brain cells come in contact with these neuro-type of toxins.
So, we want to get rid of the bad fats. We want to get rid of the sugar. The bad fats are going to be corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, margarine, and things like trans fats. We need to switch to the good oils. The healthy oils are needed because the cell membrane is made of two layers of fat. Your brain is made of 60% fat. Just from that, you can understand how essential fat is for the function in our body.
We just have to start make a distinction between bad fats and good fats.
Good fats would be extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, free range eggs, right? These are going to be the healthy fats. And grass-fed butter! Don't forget that. Our ancestors ate a lot of butter. This will help to heal that fatty membrane and your brain, which again, is 60% fat.
When it comes to sugar, it's not just about cutting out candy. Think of foods that readily turn to sugar. For those of you that are already inflamed and have symptoms, even some relatively healthy foods like whole grains can be bad. This is because four seconds after they touch your lips, these grains begin breaking down into sugar in your body, and your body is too sensitive to sugar right now because we've over-consumed sugar. We're carb-a-holics in this country, and even in western society in general.
So, we want to cut back on the breads, the biscuits, the bagels, the rice, the pastas, and the cereals. All the things that we have way over-consumed for way too long.
When you do these two things, exercise the way I described, and get rid of the sugar and bad fats, then start working on healing yourself by adding in the good, healthy fats to your diet, you're going to start to see changes, just like my clients do.
For those of you who prefer a more visual learning experience, I have a great YouTube video on this subject that I really encourage you to check out. There are even more on my YouTube channel for you to check out if you would like to learn more. I hope this helps!