Nutrition for Anxiety

Anxiety

Anxiety is a mental and emotional health condition where an individual experiences a constant abnormal sense of worry and fear. It can often interfere with sleep and daily life, and can cause physical symptoms such as muscular tension, grinding of teeth, and overall fatigue. Other common signs and symptoms of anxiety may include but are not limited to:

  • Insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Agitation
  • Racing thoughts
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosing Anxiety

Anxiety can often be self-diagnosed by the person experiencing the symptoms. Additionally, testing can be performed to rule out any other potential illnesses with similar manifestations such as heart attack, angina, menopause, or side effects from other drugs.

Self-administered questionnaires such as the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Social Phobia Inventory, Penn State Worry Questionnaire, Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, and Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale are examples of self-testing that can be performed.

Nutrition for Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million adults ages 18 to 54 experience anxiety. Of these, roughly 1 in 3 seek treatment. The same data reveals that, sadly, only 10% of people will receive proper treatment.

Because there is a mind-body connection, anxiety can affect our physical well being and influence our nutrition habits. In that same vein, nutrition can be used as a means to soothe and control anxiety.

When our bodies suffer from anxiety, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy foods for comfort, or neglect to eat at all. However, nutrition plays a crucial role in lessening and managing anxiety. Complex carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, and other unsuspecting food choices can all exasperate the symptoms of anxiety. On the other hand, a carefully crafted, plant-based diet can help relieve many mental, emotional, and physical symptoms.

By incorporating natural holistic nutrients into your diet, you can increase your well being and initiate the body’s healing ability. Foods scientifically shown to reduce anxiety due to their nutrient profile include:

  • Magnesium-rich such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, etc
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, etc
  • Zinc in foods like fortified cereals, toasted wheat germ, firm tofu, etc
  • B vitamins found in soy, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, etc
  • Herbs like lavender, passion flower, skullcap, etc
  • And many more

Foods that provide nourishment to the body should always be the primary modality when addressing any health condition. When toxic substances are eliminated from the body, the mind becomes much quieter due to more efficient neural synaptic activity, thus relieving anxiety. When incorporated as a daily routine, adding foods known to nourish the parasympathetic nervous system will keep our moods steady and balanced.

Interested in holistic nutrition? Please email Meg, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® for more information.

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