Anxiety is defined by the NHS as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Most people experience some level of anxiety in their lives, often short term, in the lead up to a stressful event such as a job interview, or when meeting new people or doing something new or challenging. Often, these feelings of worry and fear disappear once the event is over or the individual relaxes into it.
But for some of us, controlling these feelings is difficult and our anxiety is constant and may affect our normal daily life. The most common form of anxiety is a condition called Generalised Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.
This kind of anxiety is a long term condition that causes a sufferer to feel anxious about a wide range of issues and situations, often moving from one struggle to the next, with no respite in anxious feelings.
Anxiety causes feelings of restlessness and worry and problems switching off, relaxing, sleeping and focussing. It can cause physical symptoms such as dizziness and heart palpitations.
The symptoms can be so severe that a sufferer can struggle to maintain relationships and hold down a job. It may also prevent us from attending social events and gatherings and from eating well and making healthy lifestyle decisions.
So it’s clear that if we suffer with anxiety, we need take steps to help manage it. If your anxiety is bothering you or is severely affecting your life, then make an appointment to see your GP. Take a trusted friend if you think that might help too.
For mild anxiety, we can help to manage our symptoms by choosing to eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh produce, wholegrains and lean protein sources, exercising regularly and minimising stress with mindfulness practice.
But what about eating honey? Could honey help to manage anxiety? It turns out, that yes, it could!
How honey helps anxiety
A study in 2014 stated that honey has anxiolytic properties, meaning that it contains compounds (such as an antioxidant flavonoids called chrysin and gallic acid) that are capable of reducing anxiety.
It’s thought to do this by supporting the health of the central nervous system, helping to improve memory recall and intellect and reducing anxiety. This same study reported that compounds in honey “exert an excitatory effect on the central nervous system, helping to mitigate anxiety”.
Honey is also beneficial for the gut, providing prebiotic fibre to help the good bacteria in our gut (collectively called the microbiome) thrive. Researchers now know there’s a connection between the health of our gut and our mental health – the healthier our microbiome, the healthier our gut, the better our mental health.
Honey also has a lower glycaemic index (GI) than normal table sugar, meaning that it doesn’t cause the huge spikes and then lows in blood glucose levels that sugar does. Eating sugar can exacerbate feelings of anxiety by triggering the release of insulin to deal with the excess glucose, which can lead to feelings of nervousness, jitteriness, fatigue and brain fog.
Active, healing honey such as Necta & Hive high TA unpasteurised Jarrah and Red Gum honeys is a great alternative to sugar and can help to manage mild anxiety. Add a teaspoon a day to your breakfast granola, add it to a warm drink or eat it directly from the spoon.
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