Anxiety is familiar to all of us. We have all experienced nerves and fear before speaking in public, or during important and stressful events. However, for many, anxiety is a more serious problem. Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults in the United States alone. This is the most common mental illness. The good news is that it is possible to reduce anxiety levels. The first step is to discover what are the triggers that cause that anxiety.
In this article, you will learn what anxiety is, its symptoms, and the factors that trigger it. In addition, you will discover how to reduce it naturally through an anti-inflammatory healing diet, a healthy lifestyle and adequate supplementation.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a fear or worry about a future event, which occurs during stressful, dangerous or unfamiliar situations. It is a natural response to stress.
Having anxiety occasionally is completely normal. We all experience nervousness, or fear from time to time before important events, a job interview or when we are going to speak in public. However, experiencing intense, excessive, or persistent anxiety, fear, or worry can interfere with the quality of your life and health.
Persistent and intense feelings of anxiety can be difficult to control and can get in the way of your daily activities, work, studies, relationships, and social life. Some people even experience panic attacks, characterized by sudden feelings of anxiety or fear that can last for several minutes or longer.
If you have experienced anxiety that interferes with your daily life for 6 months or more, you may have an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety disorder, phobias, or another form of anxiety. However, even if you only experience occasional or mild anxiety, it can be beneficial to investigate the root causes of this problem and reduce your anxiety triggers.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders
The anxiety symptoms may differ from one person to another depending on the situation and how to suffer anxiety. A person can experience anything from a racing heartbeat to recurring panic attacks or nightmares.
Common signs of anxiety can include:
· Incrise of cardiac frecuency
· Fast breathing
· Sense of danger
· Difficult to focus
· Feeling of stress, anguish, fear, or worry
· Intense fear or general worry
· Intense fear or concern about a specific situation, place, person, or activity
· Feeling tired or weak
· Gastrointestinal complaints
· Difficulty getting to sleep
· Feel a disconnect between the body and mind
· Thinking or remembering painful or worrying things without being able to control it
· Have trouble controlling fear or worry
· Urgency or behaviors to avoid things that can trigger anxiety
· Panic attacks
What can trigger it?
When we consider what factors can trigger anxiety, we commonly think of conflict in relationships, social events, public events, financial problems, painful memories, and personal trauma.
These are undoubtedly important factors that can trigger anxiety. However, you will be surprised to learn that your nutrition and overall health can also be a significant cause. In fact, when your nutrition and overall health are not very good, these commonly considered factors can lead to even more anxiety. Let's take a look at these nutritional factors that can cause anxiety.
High blood sugar can cause anxiety
Eating irregularly can cause a drop in blood sugar. Eating a diet rich in refined sugar and sugary processed foods also leads to sugar spikes and a potential increase in anxiety levels. When you eat sugar, your body releases insulin to control the excesses in your bloodstream. However, excess sugar makes it difficult for your body to balance blood sugar levels. This leads to drops in blood sugar levels and ups and downs that can trigger anxiety, irritability, worry, nervousness, and sadness.
The fact that blood sugar can cause anxiety is not something that has been known recently. One of the first investigations on this topic was published in 1966. This study looked at people with reactive hypoglycemia, characterized by a relative drop in their blood sugar without reaching the hypoglycemic range.
The participants experienced anxiety, depression, insomnia, tremors, racing heart, dizziness, and poor memory. They also had a diet high in refined carbohydrates and caffeinated drinks. Once they were given a low-sugar, high-protein, and caffeine-free diet, their blood sugar levels leveled off and their anxiety symptoms eased.
Dysfunction of the intestinal axis of the brain can also be another trigger
Your gut literally affects everything in your body, including your brain and mood. It is not surprising that a dysfunction of the gut-brain axis can trigger anxiety.
The easiest way to understand the connection between your gut and your brain is to think of a time when you felt nervous before a presentation, test, or other event. Chances are, you've felt butterflies in your stomach, nausea, stomach pain, or even diarrhea.
As you can see, psychosocial factors can affect your gut and physiology, which can lead to inflammation and affect the movements of the gastrointestinal tract. It's the same the other way too, poor gut flora can compromise mood and brain health and lead to anxiety
How the gut-brain axis works
Your gut and brain communicate through the gut-brain axis. One way they connect is through the vagus nerve, which begins in the brain stem and travels to the gut and stimulates gut motility and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin in the gut.
On the other hand, your gut and brain communicate through the microbial species that make up your microbiome. When your microbiome and this gut-brain axis are disrupted, it can lead to a host of cognitive dysfunctions and mood disorders including anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), sensory processing, autism, Parkinson's disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.
Glutamate-GABA imbalance can trigger it
Neurotransmitters are natural chemical messengers that send information throughout the brain and affect brain health and mood. It is important that they stay balanced for optimal mental health and mood.
Neurotransmitters, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are responsible for regulating your emotions and various functions in your body.
Glutamate and GABA make up 90 percent of all neurotransmitters in your body. These are responsible for regulating the emotional response to potentially threatening stimuli that can trigger anxiety. Research from 2015 has shown that GABA imbalance can trigger anxiety, while balance can help ease it.
Foods that can trigger anxiety
If you suffer from high levels of anxiety, it is incredibly important that you pay attention to your diet. Inflammatory foods can increase inflammation, pain, and the risk of health problems. They can also cause anxiety.
1. Sugar and Processed Foods
Refined sugar is incredibly inflammatory. When you eat too much sugar, your body simply cannot process it fast enough. As a result, it releases pro-inflammatory messengers called cytokines that can lead to physical and mental health problems.
Not only are processed foods high in sugar, but they are also rich in other anxiety-triggering substances, such as processed vegetable oils, artificial flavorings, gluten, and additives.
Gluten is a protein found in a variety of grains. Gluten is particularly harmful for people with celiac disease or gluten allergies. However, a large portion of the population is sensitive to gluten and can experience inflammation, pain, and health problems. Gluten can also cause anxiety. For some people, even gluten-free grains are difficult to digest and anxiety-provoking.
3. Artificial Flavors
Artificial flavors are designed to improve the taste, texture or color, or to extend the shelf life of a product. Aspartame and MSG are two particularly dangerous artificial flavors that can trigger high levels of anxiety. However, you should be careful with all artificial flavors and other additives or preservatives, including monosodium glutamate, artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, trans fats, and any artificial flavorings.
4. Processed Vegetable Oils
Processed vegetable oils, such as corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, and peanut oil, are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. This means that they are also inflammatory and contribute to pain and health problems. Processed vegetable oils can also cause anxiety.
5. Conventional meat products
Eating meat is important for your health. However, it is essential to pay attention to the type of meat you eat. Animals raised conventionally for meat production are not treated to the highest standards. These are filled with hormones and antibiotics and are fed grain rather than grass. As a result, conventional meat products are inflammatory and can cause anxiety.
6. Excess caffeine
Caffeine can cause anxiety. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks, can cause nervous effects and stimulate a response similar to that which occurs during times of stress. Sodas and energy drinks are also packed with sugar and artificial flavorings that can further trigger anxiety.
How to reduce anxiety naturally
Conventional treatments for anxiety commonly include pharmaceutical medications. However, these medications generally serve only as a bandage and do not address the causes or totally solve the problem. You will be happy to know that it is possible to reduce anxiety naturally through a nutritious diet, a healthy lifestyle, and proper supplementation.
The following are key strategies for reducing anxiety and living a more enjoyable life. Make sure you apply them on your own and if you still have anxiety issues, then it may be time to see a health professional to customize a specific plan that you can improve.
1. Eat an anti-inflammatory healing diet
An anti-inflammatory healing diet is essential to your overall health, including your mental health. Eliminate any foods that can cause anxiety, including refined sugars, processed vegetable oils, processed foods, junk food, artificial ingredients and flavorings, gluten, grains, conventional meat products, caffeine, and toxins.
It is best to turn to foods rich in nutrients, anti-inflammatory and healing, such as green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard, non-starchy vegetables such as cucumber and celery, herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary. and cinnamon, low-glycemic fruits like berries and lemon, healthy fats like avocados, organic shortening and butter, and coconut oil. Also clean and healthy proteins, like organic grass-fed beef, grass-raised poultry, wild fish, and free-range eggs.
2. Eliminate food sensitivities
Food sensitivities can trigger anxiety. Common food sensitivities include sensitivity to sugar, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, and alcohol. However, you may also have some less common and personal sensitivities.
Once you've identified your food sensitivities, it's important to eliminate them from your diet, as they can trigger anxiety and lead to inflammation, pain, and health problems.
3. Reduce stress and prioritize good sleep
Anxiety is your body's natural response to stress. Elevated and chronic stress and a lack of quality sleep can trigger anxiety. To reduce anxiety, it is crucial that you reduce stress levels and prioritize good sleep.
Try meditation, breathing exercises, daily gratitude, journaling, spiritual practices, yoga, tai chi, nature walks, and quality time with your loved ones to reduce your stress levels. Practice positive self-talk and learn to reframe your thoughts.
To support your sleep cycle, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Develop a nighttime routine that works well for you. Turn off electronics before bedtime
4. Improves intestinal health and intestinal motility
Your gut affects your brain and mood. Poor intestinal health and an imbalance of the intestinal flora can lead to high levels of anxiety. Improving your gut health and gut motility is crucial to preventing anxiety. Eating anti-inflammatory foods is the first step, however, there are other ways to support your gut health.
It is really important that you relax your body and eat your food in a calm state. This will help your body produce enough digestive juices to properly break down, sterilize, and absorb the nutrients you are ingesting. When you are stressed, you will not be able to digest food effectively.
5. Move your body regularly
Physical exercise has enormous benefits for mental health. Lack of movement can cause anxiety and increase mood imbalances. Research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the frequency and intensity of anxiety and panic attacks.
Exercise regularly, for 20 to 30 minutes 5 times a week, and move your body every day.
While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.