Written by By Dr. Ann Ije, ND
What is anxiety?
According to NIH, anxiety is an ordinary phenomenon that most people go through during difficult periods in their life. There are many life altering situations that can bring about anxiety on any given day for people. Some situations that often bring about anxious feelings are standing in front of a large crowd to recite a speech, driving a highway, taking a very important exam, a job interview, moving to a new location, meeting new people, or making an important decision. The examples of anxiety mentioned above normally occur transiently and the feelings soon disappear. However, the inability to stop worrying or being anxious in the face of fear may point towards a more serious problem. People who suffer from anxiety disorder feel anxious or worried all the time, and that feeling tends to worsen over time. Symptoms relating to anxiety disorder can interfere with daily activities such as schoolwork, job performance, and home life. Keep reading to learn how you can be treating anxiety through nutrition.
What role do neurotransmitters play in anxiety disorder?
Neurotransmitters play a very important role in the manifestation of anxiety. The three neurotransmitters that are linked to anxiety disorder are serotonin, epinephrine/norepinephrine, and GABA. Low levels of serotonin, which can occur due to heightened emotions can lead to anxiety. When there is too much norepinephrine/epinephrine or “adrenal rush” it can cause symptoms like increased heartbeat and sweating causing one to become increasingly anxious or stressed. Finally, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it down regulates anxiety and associated symptoms, causing one to be less anxious and in a calmer state.
Nutrition and Anxiety Support
Now that we discussed what anxiety is and the neurotransmitters involved in anxiety and its regulation, we should discuss how nutrition affects anxiety and how you can be treating anxiety through nutrition. Did you know that 95% of serotonin is found in the gut lining? There seems to be an intimate connection between mood, nutrition, and our digestive tract. An anti-anxiety diet consists of foods containing high amounts of magnesium, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, and B vitamins. Magnesium is a mineral that produces calming effect and can be found in leafy greens such as Swiss chard, spinach, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Oysters, cashews, and egg yolks are some examples of zinc containing foods. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and other nuts and seeds may provide an anxiety reducing effect. Probiotics in kefir, yogurt, and miso, and kimchi help feed the gut microbiome which supports overall gut health. Lastly, avocados and almonds are a great source of B vitamins.
These food recommendations are not meant to deter anxiety sufferers from using medications as treatments, but only serve as a great addition to any anti-anxiety protocol. Talk to your healthcare provider about including a great nutrition plan in your treatment of anxiety for increased chances of success in overcoming challenges relating to anxiety disorder and treating your anxiety through nutrition.
Natural Care Center (NCC)
Looking to see a Nutritionist at the Natural Care Center to meet your nutritional needs? Integrative nutritionists use science-based diet and nutrition therapies to support your personal health and well-being. They recognize that individualized nutrition is essential to health and their integrative approach is not limited to one dietary theory. And for more than 40 years, the Natural Care Center at Maryland University of Integrative Health, which includes our student teaching clinic and professional practitioners, has provided powerful, meaningful, and effective healing experiences for patients and clients that arrive with a wide array of health challenges.
During your first visit at the NCC, your practitioner will gather information about your health and personal history, review your dietary preferences and health concerns, and assess your nutritional status. Together with your nutritionist, you will craft a personalized nutrition plan to start you on your path to greater health and vitality.To talk with someone about making an appointment, call 443-906-5794 or email .
Uma Naidoo, M. D. (2019, August 28). Nutritional strategies to ease anxiety. Harvard Health. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders