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Can diet affect my panic attacks?

Naturopath Gemma Hurditch answers for College of Naturopathic Medicine

Although usually associated with an increased stress load, panic attacks can also occur when energy-related chemicals in the blood are imbalanced (elevated lactic acid to pyruvate ratio). If your stress is ‘normal’ I would suggest you try these natural strategies to help your body cope with stress:

  • Reduce or eliminate consumption of caffeine (coffee, black tea and cola), sugar and alcohol.
  • Increase your intake of leafy green vegetables, broccoli, raw nuts and seeds for B vitamin complex, calcium and magnesium. A supplement could increase your levels quicker.
  • Correcting the balance of omega fats in the diet can also help, try a tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily, or eat more oily fish such as mackerel, whitebait and sardines.
  • Eat as ‘close to nature’ as possible, and investigate food allergens which may trigger attacks by doing a rotation and elimination diet. A naturopathic nutritional therapist can provide holistic, personalised advice.
  • Calming herbs include lemon balm, valerian, passion flower and rhodiola. Herbal teas are a great start, or a herbalist can provide a bespoke tincture. As well as diet, exercise is highly therapeutic. Importantly, consider how to tackle your sources of stress and create more balance in your life.

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