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Answers for Anxiety

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If you suffer with anxiety, you are not alone.  Especially given the current events in the world, anxiety is on the rise for many.  It is not a respecter of age, race or gender and can range from mild to severe.  It can rob you of joy and make simple tasks seem impossible.  Medically referred to as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), this condition is one of the leading reasons that people seek medical attention.

What is going on in this condition?

Although occasional worry is a normal part of life, in GAD, there is excessive worry that interferes with a person’s daily life.  It is more common in woman.  Common symptoms include feeling on edge, difficulty sleeping or even relaxing, muscle tension, fatigue and difficulty focusing/concentrating.2

This condition has many potential causes, including:

  • Poor gut health (aka dysbiosis)- There is a strong connection between the gut and brain as many neurotransmitters are made in the gut.3  
  • Emotional stress and trauma– This can vary from person to person.  What you consider traumatic may likely differ from what others would consider traumatic.4
  • Nutrient deficiencies- There are many but here are some major ones that are common:
  • Other illness/conditions- Anxiety can go along with other issues such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, etc.
  • Genetics– There are several genes that can indicate a tendency toward this condition but don’t worry, there are still lots of environmental factors that can help.4

*It’s important to note that all of these things can be linked to each other.  For example, high stress can lead to poor digestion which can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can cause more stress, etc.  

What is the best food plan for those challenged with anxiety?

A balanced whole food plant-based diet is a great option for those with anxiety due to its high fiber, micronutrient and phytochemical (referring to the medicinal qualities that many foods contain) properties.7  

Here are some foods that can be helpful:

  • Healthy fats- Although most nuts and seeds and avocados can be good, I especially love rich sources of omega 3’s to nourish the brain and nervous system and decrease inflammation and support a reduction in anxiety.8  My favorites include walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds, which are all easy to add to oatmeal or smoothies.
  • Antioxidants- These help reduce inflammation and anxiety.9  The easiest way to know if a food is rich in antioxidants is by how colorful it is.  Eating the rainbow is the way to go, for example: purple cabbage, red strawberries, blueberries, orange carrots, yellow peppers, etc.
  • Fermented vegetables- These are great options to support gut health, which is directly connected to the brain.  I love raw organic sauerkraut and kimchi.
  • Plant proteins- For neurotransmitters to work properly, you will need adequate amino acids from good quality protein.  Some of my favorites include beans, lentils and organic edamame.

There are some specific foods/substances that are known to cause or exacerbate anxiety.  It would be best to reduce or eliminate:

  • Gluten– can cause symptoms to worsen10
  • Alcohol- Alcohol acts as a stimulant and also depletes magnesium.11
  • Caffeine- can worsen anxiety and sleep challenges, especially if consumed later in the day.12
  • Neurotoxins:
    • Eat organic to avoid pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and known excitotoxins13
    • Avoid aspartame, food dyes, MSG… The easiest way to do this is to focus mainly on whole foods rather than processed foods.
    • Use natural personal care products. (Click here for some of our favorites: deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, etc.)

Supplements:  

Although it is ideal to be tested so your nutritional program can be personalized, this is a good starting point for most people wrestling with anxiety.

  • Max B (from PRL)- This is a B complex14 which contains all of your B vitamins.  Start with 1 tsp/day, ideally added to 32oz of water and sipped throughout the day.
  • Probiotics- the dose depends on the person and situation but here are some great options (start with 1/day an empty stomach).
  • DHA- the dose ranges from 500-2000mg/day depending on the situation:
    • DHA+E– This contains DHA/EPA, MCT and vitamin E.14 Start with 1 Tbs/day.
    • DHA+D– This contains DHA/EPA and D3. Start with 1 Tbs/day.
    • DHA caps– This contains just DHA. Start with 5 capsules/day.
    • DHA/EPA Marine– This is liquid DHA and EPA. Start with 1 Tbs/day.

These supplements, when taken as directed, are safe and even beneficial for pregnant and nursing mamas (in my mind, the gold standard for safety).

Take heart!

The next step for you is the one you can get your mind around … so if it’s not food (yet), perhaps you might also find help from some of these additional things:

  • Aromatherapy- diffuse lavender essential oil15
  • Music- classical music shows the best result16
  • A healthy and consistent sleep routine17 
  • Exercise- not too much, but regular18
  • Hydration– Your brain is made mainly of water and fat so it makes sense that staying hydrated can be helpful for anxiety and other brain-related issues.19

If you would like more specified help in supporting your optimal wellness, please reach out.  Call the clinic today at 269-204-6525.  I’d love to help you and your family!

References:

1. Rustamov K. Anxiety woman. https://pixabay.com/photos/portrait-gloomy-young-woman-blue-1634421/. Accessed August 23, 2021.

2. Klingler AM. Generalized anxiety disorder. JAAPA. 2014. doi:10.1097/01.JAA.0000451864.10330.b4

3. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health: The Gut-Brain Axis. Clin Pract. 2017. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987

4. Patriquin MA, Mathew SJ. The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Stress. Chronic Stress. 2017. doi:10.1177/2470547017703993

5. Muscaritoli M. The Impact of Nutrients on Mental Health and Well-Being: Insights From the Literature. Front Nutr. 2021. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.656290

6. Norwitz NG, Naidoo U. Nutrition as Metabolic Treatment for Anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2021. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2021.598119

7. Beezhold B, Radnitz C, Rinne A, Di Matteo J. Vegans report less stress and anxiety than omnivores. Nutr Neurosci. 2015. doi:10.1179/1476830514Y.0000000164

8. Su KP, Tseng PT, Lin PY, et al. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw open. 2018. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.2327

9. Gautam M, Agrawal M, Gautam M, Sharma P, Gautam A, Gautam S. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian J Psychiatry. 2012. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.102424

10. Busby E, Bold J, Fellows L, Rostami K. Mood disorders and gluten: It’s not all in your mind! a systematic review with meta-analysis. Nutrients. 2018. doi:10.3390/nu10111708

11. Vatsalya V, Gala KS, Mishra M, et al. Lower serum magnesium concentrations are associated with specific heavy drinking markers, pro-inflammatory response and early-stage alcohol-associated liver injury. Alcohol Alcohol. 2021. doi:10.1093/ALCALC/AGAA001

12. Winston AP, Hardwick E, Jaberi N. Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Adv Psychiatr Treat. 2005. doi:10.1192/apt.11.6.432

13. Mie A, Andersen HR, Gunnarsson S, et al. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: A comprehensive review. Environ Heal A Glob Access Sci Source. 2017. doi:10.1186/s12940-017-0315-4

14. Rakel D. Integrative Medicine: Fourth Edition.; 2017.

15. Donelli D, Antonelli M, Bellinazzi C, Gensini GF, Firenzuoli F. Effects of lavender on anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytomedicine. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2019.153099

16. OSMANOĞLU DE, YILMAZ H. The Effect of Classical Music on Anxiety and Well-Being of University Students. Int Educ Stud. 2019. doi:10.5539/ies.v12n11p18

17. Alvaro PK, Roberts RM, Harris JK. A systematic review assessing bidirectionality between sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression. Sleep. 2013. doi:10.5665/sleep.2810

18. Aylett E, Small N, Bower P. Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice – A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Health Serv Res. 2018. doi:10.1186/s12913-018-3313-5

19. Haghighatdoost F, Feizi A, Esmaillzadeh A, et al. Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study. World J Psychiatry. 2018. doi:10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.88

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a health care practitioner.  It is for educational purposes only.