Nutritional Strategies to Ease Anxiety

Are you feeling anxious or overwhelmed? Is this leading to chronic stress, fatigue, mood swings, poor sleep? If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Anxiety around the world has been at an all-time high, especially since the global pandemic hit over three years ago. It has been reported by the government of Canada that an estimated 3 million Canadians, aged 18 years and older, struggle with mood and anxiety (1). Specific lifestyle and nutritional modifications can work wonders when it comes to managing and improving generalized anxiety. This blog provides some insight into how you can manage your anxiety, and start feeling like your best self.

1. Manage Blood Sugar

Understanding the link between blood sugar levels and anxiety has been ground-breaking when it comes to promoting a balanced, calm mood. As blood sugar levels within the body swing up and down, so does our mood. Low blood sugar spikes our stress hormone cortisol, and can lead to feelings of fatigue, moodiness, irritability, lethargy, shakiness, worry, and panic. Many of these symptoms can both mimic or worsen generalized anxiety. Watching the glycemic Index is a helpful tool when it comes to managing blood sugar levels. A big change may be swapping your traditional white sugar for alternatives like stevia, monk fruit, or xylitol. Increasing fiber, protein, and vegetable intake is crucial as well. There are also great supplements that can aid in blood sugar management such as this chromium supplement, or this blood sugar control supplement.

2. Calm Inflammation

Science continues to prove that chronic inflammation, even low-grade, may cause and exacerbate anxiety. When there is systemic inflammation within the body, there is most likely also some inflammation within the brain. Bringing down inflammation by eating a diet rich in whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes can help with managing inflammation. Taking a high-quality omega 3 supplement has also been shown to bring down inflammation which can improve anxiety. In addition to supplementation, You can get omega 3 fatty acids through foods like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and fatty fish. A study completed on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3 supplements may help reduce anxiety (4).

3. Improve Gut Health

 Did you know that about 95% of your serotonin receptors are found in the gut? Serotonin is our “feel good” hormone, and plays a major role in our well-being (5). The research continues to support that a healthy gut is associated with a healthy mind. This is known as the gut-brain axis. A study in the journal psychiatry Research, suggested a link between probiotic foods and a lowering of social anxiety. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir was linked with fewer symptoms (6). In addition to eating foods rich in probiotics, taking a therapeutic dose through supplementation is important. Garden of Life has created a special probiotic formulated with strains specific for mood. Learn more about it here!

4. Find Time for Mindfulness

In order to calm the nerves, you must calm the mind. Finding inner peace is crucial when managing symptoms of anxiety. Mindfulness has been a suggested practice for anxiety at nauseum, but for good reason! Research shows that practicing mindfulness daily can lead to a significant decrease in anxiety! Mindfulness practices looks different for everyone. For some, it may be a quiet walk enjoying the outdoors and nature, while for others it may be an intentional 15-minute breathing session daily. My personal favourite is working through a guided meditation. Here is a list of some of the best current online services for guided meditation.

5. Find the Right Supplements

Supplements can be helpful to ease the central nervous system, and play a large part in the integrative approach to managing anxiety. Here are a few really great natural supplement options to consider:

5-HTP:  5-HTP is widely used as an alternative treatment of generalized anxiety. This amino acid is essential for the manufacturing of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a central role in the regulation of mood and anxiety (8).

GABA: Gaba has been show to decrease nerve responsiveness, therefore leading to feelings of calm. Gaba is thought to be able to reduce stress, and anxiety while improving sleep (9). 

L-THEANINE: Studies show that within just four weeks of taking L-theanine, stress-related symptoms such as anxiety and lack of sleep, show improvement. It is a great way to naturally manage stress and worry(10).

Not sure where to start? Hop on our website live chat and ask our nutritionist any questions you have on supporting your emotional well-being! 

 

Allison Sherkin - House of WellnessWritten by Allison Sherkin, RHN, CHNC
Allison is the in-house nutritionist at House of Wellness. She is a registered holistic nutritionist with experience in weight loss, mental health, hormonal balance, and digestion. She is passionate about helping others elevate their health and truly discover their highest potential! Allison believes in products made with integrity and focuses on effective solutions to help her customers and clients.

 

References: 

  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/mood-anxiety-disorders-canada.html
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/blood-sugar-and-anxiety-5179339
  3. https://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/patient-resources/glycemic-index-food-guide.pdf
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21784145/
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25998000/
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/meditation-online
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201810/5-hydroxytryptophan-5-htp-anxiety
  9. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22857-gamma-aminobutyric-acid-gaba
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836118/

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