Easier said than done, right? Medically defined, anxiety is “an unpleasant emotional state ranging from mild unease to intense fear.” This fear does not always stem from a clear or realistic cause. Anxiety can be chronic or acute in the form of panic attacks. Anxiety comes in a variety of types and is classified based on symptoms. These include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder. Characterized by chronic anxiety, excessive worry, overwhelm, inability to relax and tension without emotional or social cause.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder. Constant recurring, unwanted thoughts and/or behaviors.
- Panic Disorder. Characterized by feelings of terror/panic that can occur unexpectedly and are accompanied by physical symptoms such as nausea, sweating and racing heart.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Develops after a negative event or chronic negative scenarios. Patients are in a continuous state of “fight or flight”, making them “jumpy”.
- Social Anxiety. Characterized by excessive fear, heightened anxiety and self-consciousness in social situations. Patients have a phobia of being watched and judged by others.
- GABA Deficiency -> The amino acid glutamine is converted into glutamate (a stimulating chemical), which is then converted into GABA (a relaxing chemical). GABA and glutamate have a complex relationship and are both important in the right amounts, therefore the goal is to achieve a balance between the two. GABA inhibits excitatory impulses in the brain and low levels have been associated with restlessness, anxiety, insomnia and poor mood. Excess glutamate levels are excitatory and can cause intense anxiety. High levels of glutamate are associated with accumulation of fatty toxins in the brain. In addition, glutamate receptors can pull in other excitatory substances such as aspartame or MSG which also result in excess stimulation. Too much calcium in the body can also contribute to imbalances. Magnesium competes with calcium and helps to reduce electrical activity in the brain.
- Serotonin Deficiency -> The amino acid tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP in the small intestine, which is then converted to serotonin in the brain. This brain chemical is often referred to as our “happy hormone” which influences our emotional state, appetite and cravings, sleep habits and even our pain tolerance. Serotonin enhances GABA’s ability to activate brain receptors and is needed in order for GABA to work properly.
- Lactic Acid Excess -> When the body lacks oxygen, lactate is the final product in the breakdown of blood sugar. Elevated levels of lactic acid in the blood are also a factor in anxiety.
Common underlying behaviors and factors that can disrupt function, impair conversion or negatively affect production of brain chemicals include:
- Excessive caffeine and/or alcohol intake. Diet high in refined/processed foods, trans fats, sugars, artificial sweeteners/flavoring/colorings. Food sensitivities (be especially aware of gluten and casein). Nutrient deficiencies (esp. B-vitamins and magnesium).
- Chronic stress, multitasking or inadequate sleep.
- Imbalanced blood sugar levels and hormone irregularities (i.e. thyroid or sex hormones).
- Toxin accumulation (pesticides, herbicides, pollution, heavy metals, chemicals) in food, environment, common cleaning or personal care products. Plus, electromagnetic frequencies from computers, cell phones, microwaves, televisions, Wi-Fi, etc.
- Candida overgrowth, imbalanced gut bacteria, leaky gut and chronic inflammation.
- Multivitamin-> Consistently taking a high-quality multivitamin/mineral + D3 is essential.
- B-Complex -> Vital for the synthesis of brain chemicals to support mood, nerves, sleep.
- Magnesium -> Deficiency has been associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, fear, insomnia, confusion, and memory loss. Use a bisglycinate form!
- Adaptogens -> Increase resistance to physical or biological stressors, improve mental and physical performance as well as prevent the negative effects of while enhancing the body’s response to stress. Ashwaghanda, Ginseng, Holy Basil help in reducing anxiety.
- Probiotics -> Our brains and digestive system communicate! Probiotics secrete neurotransmitters that are absorbed into the bloodstream and can influence our central nervous system. Lactobacillus helveticus, rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium longum have shown anxiety-lowering and mood modulating effects.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (High EPA) -> Researchers have linked low levels to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and other psychological disorders.
- Calming Herbs -> Passionflower, Valerian, Chamomile and Kava may help relieve anxiety, nervousness and tension.
- 5-HTP -> A precursor to serotonin. Serotonin deficiency contributes to weight gain, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and panic attacks as well as cravings and overeating.
- GABA -> Promotes a shift in brain wave patterns that promote a relaxed, yet alert state while decreasing nervousness, scattered thoughts and hyperactivity. GABA works in a similar, but more powerful way when compared to L-Theanine (about 2.5x stronger).
- Avoid known triggers. Test and seek to balance hormones if necessary.
- Manage stress and sleep with lifestyle changes and natural supplementation. Try meditation, deep breathing, massage, or journaling. Seek positive social support.
- Regular, moderate physical exercise has been known to reduce anxiety.
- Try aromatherapy blends with Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Geranium and Lime.
- Choose whole, natural, organic foods and eat consistent, balanced meals with adequate fibre, protein and healthy fats.
- Chew well and eat in a relaxed state. Consider digestive enzymes (& HCl) if necessary!
Anxiety can be caused by both physical and psychological factors. Therefore, a variety of compatible treatment options and professional health services should be considered.
-This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach –