Anxiety can be triggered by a lot of factors. It’s possible that a person who feels anxious has a chronic illness such as cancer or diabetes. Caffeine and certain medications are also linked to anxiety. Daily stresses at work, school, or due to a financial problem all lead to anxiety.
Regardless of the cause of anxiety, it’s no secret that your choice of foods can help you feel calmer and boost your mood. What you put into your mouth affects how you feel. We call this concept the gut-brain connection.
The gut-brain connection tells us that a healthy gut positively impacts your brain function. To keep your gut healthy, you need to eat the right foods.
What Is the Vegan Keto Diet and Does It Help with Anxiety?
Let’s start by defining what a ketogenic diet is. The ketogenic diet or keto is a dietary approach where a person eats more fats, very little carbohydrates, and moderate protein.
On a standard American diet, people get their energy from carbohydrates. When you’re on keto, your body gets used to tapping into its stored fat for fuel. Keto macronutrient ratios usually fall within the following ranges:
- 60-75% of calories from fat
- 5-10% of calories from carbs
- 15-30% of calories from protein
Using a keto calculator is beneficial in many cases because it helps you determine your specific macro numbers depending on your personal goals for weight loss or weight gain. At the same time, it makes sure that you stay in ketosis.
People who follow a vegan ketogenic diet meet their keto macros by eliminating all animal products and eating plant-based foods. Examples of these vegan foods are green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and seaweed, and plant milks.
This is what’s great about going keto to achieve your health and wellness goals — the diet can be tailored to your food preferences. So yes, you can be a vegan and a keto dieter at the same time.
Here’s How Vegan Keto Alleviates Anxiety
When we experience stress and anxiety, our cortisol levels increase, making us crave for sweet, sugar-laden foods. Cortisol is the stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands. While sweet foods induce positive feelings as your blood sugar levels rise, these feelings do not last very long.
This “sugar high” is followed by a crash in which your blood sugar drops below the normal range (hypoglycemia). It happens because your body releases large amounts of insulin to try to normalize that blood sugar. A study shows that hypoglycemia triggers the release of adrenaline which then leads to anxiety.
Recall that on a keto diet, you need to drastically reduce all carbohydrates. As a result, your blood glucose stays within the normal range, making you more emotionally healthy. One study of keto in psychiatry revealed that male rats who were fed with ketone supplements had reduced anxiety.
Following a vegan ketogenic diet for the purpose of relieving anxiety also entails that you consume low-carbohydrate, non-starchy plant-based foods that contain mood-boosting vitamins and minerals.
10 Keto-Friendly Vegan Foods That Relieve Anxiety
Here’s what you should know: Not all plant-based foods are good for keto. A common mistake that vegans planning to go keto make is that they confuse a high-carb food for a low-carb food. On top of eating plenty of healthy fats, it’s important to watch out for high-carb sources — because truth be told, many foods in a vegan diet are full of carbs.
For the purpose of dealing with anxiety, here are ten keto-approved vegan foods that work wonders on your mental health:
- Spinach – Spinach contains vitamin B which reduces your anxiety levels. As a keto-friendly vegetable, a one-cup raw serving contains only one gram of carbohydrate.
- Avocados – They’re one of the most versatile keto foods since you can add them to your dips, salads, soups, or breakfast recipes. Avocados are a rich source of omega-3, a fatty acid that regulates the flow of your neurotransmitters.
- Kale – There are so many delicious ways to eat kale on a vegan keto diet. What about a quick breakfast smoothie made of kale and almond milk? If you love chips for snacks, you can make kale chips by baking curly kale.
- Pecans – Nuts such as pecans are high in good fats, making them great for keto. They’re a source of antioxidants. These antioxidants combat oxidative stress which is linked to anxiety.
- Asparagus – This vegetable isn’t just a stress-buster. It also comes with a lot of health perks like lower blood pressure, weight loss, and a stronger immune system.
- Walnuts – After coming home from a stressful day at school or work, munch on a bowl of walnuts. They’re another excellent source of omega-3 to reduce your cortisol hormone levels.
- Turmeric – The active ingredient in turmeric called curcumin has been said to treat inflammation, a factor of mood disorders. One study shows that curcumin balances the brain’s neurotransmitter levels. Administering curcumin boosts serotonin which helps you relax.
- Blueberries – Blueberries are great for snacking on and adding to your smoothies and desserts. They provide you with good amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C regulates cortisol in a stressful situation.
- Chia seeds – You can add chia seeds to any plant milk such as almond milk or coconut milk to create a stress-busting pudding. Eat it for breakfast or as a dessert. One serving has only 8 grams of carbs.
- Olive oil – While olive oil isn’t really a food, it’s good for pan-frying vegetables and it makes an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Including MUFAs in your diet improves your brain function.
A vegan ketogenic diet helps beat anxiety. Low-carbohydrate vegetables keep your blood sugar from racing up and down, preventing those sudden mood changes. Make sure to stick with veggies that contain micronutrients that benefit brain health.