Anxiety is pervasive. We all know someone in our inner circle of friends, family or colleagues who is currently suffering from anxiety. Symptoms and severity will vary, but in our culture today, anxiety is everywhere.
The best definition I’ve ever heard came from my cherished university professor. He says, simply, that anxiety is the anticipation of an aversive stimulus. Not the stimulus or event itself, not the actual problem, just the anticipation that it might happen. He added that anxiety is often much more problematic than the event itself.
Anxiety is problematic for both our mental and physical health.
Let’s consider the actual causes that are often overlooked.
Think adrenals. Think fight or flight. Now think about the continual bombardment of tasks in our busy life. From work, from partners, friends and family, from the news, from the phone that’s always buzzing. It’s constant and 50 years ago it was very different.
Biologically, we’re not equipped for this. The hormonal response to stress is inflammatory, immune suppressing and causes muscle tension, poor concentration, heart palpitation…. Anxiety.
Testing hormone levels and getting them back to normal is essential.
This might come as a surprise. Poor digestion, poor elimination (ie. constipation), bacterial overgrowth in the gut are key factors that drives mental health concerns. Have you heard that the gut is the ‘second brain’?
Here’s why. Serotonin a neurotransmitter in the brain strongly linked to anxiety. There’s more serotonin in the gut than in the brain. Dysfunction in one drives dysfunction in the other.
Toxins are released by the billions of bacterial that live in the gut. Constipation allows those toxins more time to absorb into the bloodstream where they can access the brain. Along the same lines, chronic gut problems have been linked to depression, ADHD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other conditions once thought to be exclusively ‘brain issues’.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride wrote a fantastic book called ‘Gut and Psychology Syndrome’, linking chronic digestive symptoms to several psychological disorders including autism, ADHD, depression and anxiety.
The brain needs nutrients. Those suffering from anxiety do best with additional B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and certain minerals like magnesium, zinc and copper. Of course a nutrient-dense, omnivorous diet, void of food sensitivities and anti-nutrients is the key starting point. The ‘Paleo Diet’ is an excellent starting point but variations to this diet are often recommended based on individualized needs.
I’ve successfully helped many patients transcend their anxiety by identifying and addressing these underlying physiological problems. It brings great satisfaction when helping people wean off of their pharmaceutical medications and regain control over their lives.
We all know someone who’s life and potential is curbed because of anxiety. Share this post and help them take the step toward addressing these underlying factors and regain their health.
Dr. Sal Meli ND
Euphoria Natural Health