Put Anxiety on a Diet!

Did you know there is a strong connection to anxiety and diet?

In a recent collaboration with Anxiety and Liz we have covered the impact of diet on anxiety including serotonin and probiotics. After all, if we can affect or even mildly improve anxiety with what we eat, and we become healthier in the process, why not?!

Serotonin and Anxiety

The chemical and neurotransmitter serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone” plays a significant role in anxiety disorders. Any deficiency in serotonin production may relate to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety[1]. This is not terribly surprising to me since most of us with a diagnosed anxiety disorder are prescribed medication to regulate the amount of serotonin absorbed in the brain via the gut-brain axis:

The surprise for me came when I discovered that while serotonin isa neurotransmitter it is estimated that 90% of it is manufactured in thestomach! Said another way, the brain and gut are in constant communication –buy why is this significant?

Since almost all serotonin is created in the stomach evidencesuggests that diet can affect the production of serotonin. In particular, theessential amino acid tryptophan isconverted to serotonin, so it follows that the more tryptophan is ingested thebetter we may feel from the associated increase in serotonin production! Beloware some foods rich in tryptophan[2]:

  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • Tofu and soy
  • Turkey

Keep in mind that simply ingesting a variety of the above foodswill not automatically decrease anxiety. There are many other factors that leadto conversion of tryptophan to serotonin but being cognizant of what is in yourdiet and ingesting more tryptophan-rich resources just may help reduce anxiety!

We started with the discussion about serotonin Liz has provided info on another important component of the anxiety-diet mix: probiotics.

Probiotics and Anxiety

Liz from Anxiety and Liz cites that there is some clinical evidence which suggests that the bacteria in your gut can affect your mental health. There is speculation that this can even reach so far as bipolar, schizophrenia and other psychological or neurological problems[3]. It is therefore possible that your gut bacteria may be a contributing factor towards your anxiety. The possibility of improving my mental healthy by correcting the balance of bacteria in my gut is something that I find particularly interesting[4]

In addition to the benefits listed above probiotics can help with other health issues that are associated with anxiety, such as depression and irritable bowel syndrome[4].

Probiotics have many health benefits and it appears that they canalso help us to tackle our mental health problems. Probiotics containing Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus have themost evidence to suggest that they could make a significant impact on youranxiety levels[5].Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus is ahealthy bacteria which prevents the growth of bad bacteria. Taking supplementsalongside a balanced diet may be the best approach to tackling your anxiety! I believe thatwhat you put into your body does affect your mood. If I have spent all dayeating healthy then I feel better in myself and have a general positiveoutlook. Anyway, I’m off to stock up on probiotics and cheese! 

Why not make a change to your diet and see how your mental health can improve? If you have already altered your diet to be more conscious of how what you are eating can affect your mental health then let us know how it has impacted your health!

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[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080204094507.htm

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/tryptophan#side-effects

[3] https://www.psycom.net/the-gut-brain-connection

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/urban-survival/201809/can-probiotics-help-reduce-anxiety

[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/urban-survival/201809/can-probiotics-help-reduce-anxiety

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