The prevalence of anxiety and depression is on the rise and if your symptoms are persistent and interfere with normal daily functioning, coping can be a challenge and requires making lifestyle changes. Here are some signs that may be contributing to your feeling unwell and anxious.
1. Are you eating and drinking regularly? When we are busy and stressed our appetite can be impacted and some of us crave certain foods in larger amounts to get relief and comfort while others experience less hunger and forget to eat or drink altogether. Skipping meals and not drinking enough water can impact how you feel, your mood and energy and how you cope with anxiety.
2. Are you eating inflammatory foods? Consuming too much sugar from sweetened foods and drinks, processed or fried foods, artificial sweeteners or even refined flour containing foods can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health.
Furthermore, some foods and food additives may be inflammatory for you if you are intolerant or sensitive to them and can cause unpleasant physical reactions including shifts in mood, anxiety and irritability.
3. Do you have GERD or heartburn? We know there is a link between anxiety and GERD. If you have trouble digesting your food, experience heartburn or acid reflux and find yourself needing to use stomach acid blockers (PPIs) to relieve indigestion, chances are you are negatively affecting your mental health by reducing your ability to digest proteins, absorb B12, iron and other nutrients. Frequent long-term use of PPIs has also been linked to severe cognitive decline and dementia.
4. Do you have irritable bowel syndrome? Digestive symptoms like gas bloating constipation or diarrhea are signs that you have an imbalance in your microbiome (beneficial gut microbes) which can lead to an imbalance in production of certain neurotransmitters. Improving your gut health by finding the root cause of your digestive symptoms and then supporting and feeding your microbiome will help improve your mental health.
5. Do you have uncontrolled blood sugars? Cortisol is a hormone related to mood motivation and fear and is released as a response to stress and anxiety. In adequate amounts cortisol is helpful but constantly elevated cortisol levels can lead to cravings for sweets and carbs, energy drops after eating, fat around the middle, poor concentration and brain fog. Turning to sweets when stressed causes the dopamine receptors in our brain to be less effective so we crave more which can lead to poor blood sugar balance.
Poor glycemic control is associated with decline in cognitive function and brain insulin resistance is a risk factor in Alzheimer’s & diabetes. To top it all off, people with diabetes have higher incidences of all-cause dementia.
Nutrition interventions can address the root causes of imbalances, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, manage stress response, enhance neural communication and alter gene expression and can be a complimentary or alternative approach to medicating symptoms by addressing the underlying metabolic dysfunctions associated with mental health and anxiety.
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Sec. Mood Disorders