BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Like many things in women’s health anxiety can be multi-faceted. That means there are usually numerous things contributing to feelings of anxiety.
When we experience stress, it can take our full attention. When we focus on the situation at hand we forget to do the things that make us feel steady, energized and balanced.
This reminds me of a story…Donna was in menopause and had gained 10 extra pounds when her metabolism shifted. She changed her food and committed to taking better care of herself and was seeing results. A big party was on the horizon and she was a master cake decorator. She volunteered to make the cake and do some party preparations. The week leading up to the event she was so engrossed with her responsibilities she forgot to drink water, skipped meals, and had a hard time sleeping. Her feet started to swell, bowel movements slowed down and she gained weight!
This is a small example of the physiologic effects of anxiety and stress on our bodies.
There have been a number of studies on diet, nutrition and caffeine intake as related to anxiety.
A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and whole grains correlates with improved mood and lowered depression and anxiety.
Conversely a western diet of processed fried foods, refined grains, sugar and alcohol was linked to higher psychological distress.
Remember to “eat the rainbow” and eat fresh food whenever you are able.
Caffeine consumption is associated with increased alertness, anxiety and improved task performance.
Exercise and Anxiety
Anxiety symptoms and panic disorder decrease with regular exercise. Moderate to vigorous exercise can equal the effects of meditation.
Acute anxiety responds better to exercise than chronic anxiety.
Physical activity upregulates dopamine, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Balancing Brain Chemistry with Amino Acids
Foundational amino acids include:
L-Lysine – a deficiency leads to increased feelings of anxiety. Increases serotonin levels.
Glycine – inhibits excitatory neurons, calming
L-tryptophan – precursor to serotonin. Used in bouts of anxious depression.
L-tyrosine – precursor to dopamine and norepinephrine
GABA – inhibitory neurotransmitter
L-theanine – increases dopamine, serotonin and GABA. Reduces blood pressure and anxiety. Improves quality of sleep.
Vitamins and minerals support neurotransmitter balance
Brain hormones build on one another.
(Nutrients required include Iron, vitamin B6, folic Acid, Magnesium, vitamin C, copper)
(Nutrients required include Iron, calcium, folic acid, magnesium vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc)
Living with Anxiety can really rob us of our joy and prevent us from being fully present in the moment. There are many situations in life that can induce anxiety. It is helpful to lean into natural methods that can support your body and allow you to live life with vitality. So that you thrive and not simply survive.
Wishing You Well,