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Allowing Food to Heal Anxiety

Vonda Martin, BS, TCM, Nutrition Coach

We all know that anxiety is an unpleasant emotional state, ranging from mild unease to

extreme panic and fear.  Anxiety differs from fear, in that fear is a rational reaction to

real danger, but anxiety can happen lacking a clear or even realistic cause.  Though

some anxiety is normal, and in fact healthy, higher levels of anxiety are not only

uncomfortable, but can lead to significant health problems, including release of cortisol,

the fight or flight hormone.


Anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as tightness in the chest,

quickened and stronger heartbeat, throbbing or stabbing pains, inability to take in

enough air, tendency to sigh or hyperventilate.  Additionally, we can have tension in the

head, neck and shoulders, butterflies in the stomach, panic, wanting to run away,

muscle spasms, excessive sweating, flushing, digestive disturbances, dry mouth and


Anxious people always feel that something bad is about to happen.  They may fear they

have a chronic illness--a condition reinforced by symptoms of anxiety itself.  Inability to

relax may lead to difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep, and may also lead to


Anxiety can be caused by a result of both physical and psychological factors.  For

example, extreme stress can trigger anxiety and/or panic attacks, but so can certain

stimulants, such as caffeine.  Anxiety can be triggered by elevations in the blood lactic

acid level. Lactic acid is the final product in the breakdown of blood sugar (glucose)

when there is a lack of oxygen.


There are at least seven nutritional factors that may be responsible for triggering anxiety by raising blood lactic acid levels.

 Caffeine

 Sugar

 Deficiency of B-vitamins

 Deficiency of calcium

 Deficiency of magnesium

 Alcohol

 Food allergies

Simply avoiding sugar and caffeine, foods you have an allergy to, alcohol and adding

supplements of B-Complex vitamins and getting enough magnesium and calcium can

go a long way in relieving anxiety.  In fact, cutting out caffeine alone, can often result in

a large decrease in anxiety.

The diet should be rich in foods that have high levels of B vitamins, such as:

 Leafy vegetables

 Whole grains

 Legumes

Foods that are high in calcium and magnesium include:

 Sea vegetables (kelp, seaweed)

 Sesame

 Milk

 Leafy green vegetables

 Dairy products

Finally, there are several herbs that have been studied to help with anxiety.

 Passionflower

 Valerian -(especially useful 30 minutes before bedtime)

 Chamomile-(especially good in a hot tea)

 Lemon Balm-(preliminary research has shown that lemon balm can reduce some symptoms of anxiety, including nervousness and excitability.)-Brent A. Baur, MD

[If you're considering taking any herbal supplement as a treatment for anxiety, talk to your doctor first, especially if you take other medications. The interaction of some herbal supplements and certain medications can cause serious side effects. Some herbal supplements taken for anxiety can cause you to feel sleepy, so they may

not be safe to take when driving or doing dangerous tasks.]

Meet Vonda Martin, Nutrition coach and Targeted Case Manager with Mindsight Behavioral Group. Nutrition is just one of Vonda's many passions. She enjoys helping other develop healthy and productive lifestyles so that they can find peace and happiness!

Fore more information you can reach out to Vonda by email at or to work with Vonda, click here!

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