Iron is found in every cell of the human body. Its role is to carry oxygen to different organs in the body, which is why low levels lead to tiredness and irritability. Iron is key in the synthesis of serotonin, which can lead to anxiety. People with anxiety disorders have significantly lower levels of iron (link).
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
Unfortunately, we’ve been told to fear fats and our brain have paid the price. Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made by the body so they must be found in food. The brain is primarily made up of fat and needs omega-3’s for cognitive function and nervous system function. People with the most severe anxiety have the lowest levels of omega-3 fatty acids (link).
5. Microbiome Imbalance
Our entire GI tract is filled with tiny microbes. We have more bacteria than human genes. Our microbiome is a blueprint that’s unique to us. It’s been influenced since birth by our mother, how we were born, and if we were breastfed. It continues to change throughout life.
As adults diet, sleep and stress all influence our microbiome.
70% of neurotransmitters like serotonin are made in the gut then sent through to the brain via the gut-brain axis. Our gut-brain axis is a 2-way communication center between the gut and the brain. These microbes determine not only our overall health but our thoughts and mood.
When we have an imbalance of microbes meaning more ‘bad’ microbes than ‘good’ ones, all types of psychiatric disorders can happen from anxiety to depression, and mood disorders.
A groundbreaking study done at University College Cork, Ireland was the first to make a connection between microbes and a specific molecule called microRNA in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex of the brain (link).
Researchers took two groups of mice. One group was germ-free (no microbes) and the other was normal. In the germ-free mice, 103 microRNAs in the amygdala and 31 microRNA’s in the prefrontal cortex were changed compared to the normal mice. This was the first time a study showed that the gut physically changed the mind.
When researchers added back gut microbes into the germ-free mice the levels normalized. This is pretty mind-blowing, and a reason that balancing the microbes in our gut should be a major part of any mental health treatment.
Everyone knows that stress affects us negatively, but chronic stress also physically changes the brain. Research done at UC Berkeley shows that chronic stress changes the production of myelin (the insulation around nerve cells) which disruptions the communication patterns within the brain (link).
Stress also influences the production of neurotransmitters which play a key role in anxiety.
Want to know more about how to deal with anxiety? Read 36 Most Relaxing Songs For Anxiety, Stress, And Depression
7. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
It’s only when you stop eating gluten that you notice the insane amount of this we’re eating on a daily basis. Bagels and pastries for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for dinner are all the norm.
The mainstream idea is that only people with a rare condition called Celiac disease have issues with gluten, but there’s something that countless people have and are unaware of called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.