Nutritional Strategies To Reduce Anxiety

Discover nutritional strategies to reduce anxiety through proper nutrition. Learn about the role of diet, gut-brain axis, and key nutrients in supporting mental health and promoting a calm mind.

Nutritional Support For Anxiety

I still remember my European vacation 20 years ago. I was driving in Slovenia after a long drive from Italy and missed the exit. I was so exhausted that I completely freaked out. I suffered an anxiety attack, specifically a panic attack. I could not talk or breathe, and I had to stop the car on teh side of the highway. There was nothing that could stop the anxiety attack then, and I was terrified. I was unaware of what happened until I heard someone speaking about it and decided to recollect my memory. I realized that I had been suffering from anxiety since early childhood, and I did not have a clue about what it was. I was feeling guilty and bad about it. I started researching what happened to me and wanted to get better. In this blog, you will learn nutritional strategies to reduce anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety refers to fear or worry that something terrible will take place frequently. Anxiety disorder is a prevalent problem that is known to affect most teenagers, and it can take place at any time. According to recent research, up to 30 million Americans are said to have been diagnosed with panic disorders, anxiety, and different phobias. Another 35 million suffer from mild to moderate signs. Anxiety disorder is said to affect twice as many females as males. Anxiety is closely associated with heart disease and high blood pressure.

Anxiety can either be acute or chronic. Acute anxiety manifests as panic attacks, and chronic anxiety is the milder form of an anxiety attack. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is chronic anxiety, manifests by feeling anxiety most of the time. However, the intensity is never as high as during a panic attack. Some common symptoms are feeling chronically worried, uneasy, and without provoking factors. Most people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can never relax and feel apprehensive. They do anticipate disaster and are concerned too much and more often. They suffer from poor concentration, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbances. There is also a possibility that they can suffer from frequent panic attacks.

Panic attacks most often occur when the natural response of the body reactions occurs at the wrong time. As the body prepares to deal with an emergency, it produces more adrenaline. An increase in the production of adrenaline can make the body step up protein, fats, and carbohydrates metabolism for fast energy output for immediate use.

The heartbeat will become more rapid as the muscle tension increases. In the case of survival, all the symptoms will be typical. However, at other times, when not in real danger, the same symptoms will not be required and can sometimes be very frustrating. Most of the individuals with panic attacks are usually overwhelmed with fear, and they most often feel they will die and do not have clear thinking.

The panic attacks are usually abrupt, intense, and unexpected. They can last for several minutes, up to 30 minutes, although it seems a bit longer for the person who suffers from it. Most people think that they will have a heart attack or a stroke. 

Although they are, in most cases, triggered by stress, they can also be triggered by the response of specific mineral deficiency, foods, drugs, hormonal imbalances, menopause, vitamins, gut dysbiosis, and illness. Food and Hypoglycemia allergies are the most common in individuals suffering from panic attacks. Stimulants like alcohol and coffee are among the common causes, too.

The attacks take place without any real cause since they are unpredictable, making them even more distressing. Most of those people who have panic disorder are also known to have social anxiety.

Most scientists do believe that anxiety is caused by brain chemistry malfunction, where the brain receives and sends false emergency signals. Hyperactivity in particular brain regions causes norepinephrine release that causes breathing, pulse, and blood pressure to quicken, producing symptoms of a panic attack. Anxiety disorders run in families, and it is believed that both the learned and genetic components play an integral role.

Causes of Anxiety

Mental condition

Physical condition

Trauma to medication side effects

Certain Medical Conditions Copy Anxiety Symptoms

  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Minerals and vitamin deficiencies
  • Asthma
  • Genetic
  • Substance abuse and withdrawal symptoms
  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid disorders

These external factors are known to cause anxiety:

  • Lack of oxygen
  • Trauma
  • Stress

Symptoms and Signs

  • Sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Trembling
  • Restlessness
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Hyperventilation
  • Fatigue
  • GI Problems
  • Feeling nervous
  • Hot flashes
  • Neurotransmitters imbalances
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling of unreality
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability
  • Unreality Feeling
  • Claustrophobic sensations
  • Feeling worried
  • Distorted perception of time


  • Suffering from anxiety can lead to several mental and physical condition
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive issues
  • Chronic pain
  • Decreased libido
  • Substance abuse
  • Muscular stiffness and twitching
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Suicide thoughts
  • Low-quality life

Anxiety Disorders Types

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is persistent, unrealistic, and excessive worry daily
  • Phobias: Fears and anxiety some of the ordinary and harmless things such as flying.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – This can be a result of some severe trauma or even life-threatening event such as war, rape, etc.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder- Fear whenever you are in social situations
  • Panic Disorder – This seems to arise out of the blue without any reason.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)- Disruptive and unwanted thought
  • Hormones do play an important role in anxiety. One can struggle with three different hormones related to anxiety.
  • Trauma

Insulin-Based Anxiety

Stable blood sugar is crucial for mental health and mood. Whatever you eat has an impact on how you will be feeling and your health. Overeating simple carbohydrates such as processed sweets, potatoes, pasta, bread, chips, etc. will compromise your mood.

These carbs can spike your blood sugar level, and the body will have to secrete high insulin doses to reduce it. If this is happening daily, insulin overproduction will create a state of hypoglycemia. If you experience symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and shakiness, then there is a high chance that you are experiencing hypoglycemia, which leads to anxiety. The body will protect your heart and brain from dangerous levels of low blood sugar. It will pump out more cortisol that will affect your mental state directly.

Estrogen-Based Anxiety

The human body works best when it is balanced. If any of your hormones are out of balance, then your entire body will be out of balance. When estrogen levels are too high or low, the ratio of estrogen and progesterone will be off. In most cases, this happens during the premenstrual phase, menopause, or perimenopause, and it can lead to anxiety. Estrogen does have a calming effect on the human brain, and optimal progesterone levels are also calming.

As women continue going through their menstrual life cycle, after 35, their hormones will start to decrease with age. They have lower progesterone levels, which makes estrogen the dominant hormone. However, when the dominating hormone is estrogen, and the hormones are not well balanced, this can affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, leading to panic attacks, anxiety, and a sense of overwhelming doom.

It can also lead to several problems, such as uneasiness, apprehension, mood swings, and irritability.

Cortisol-Based Anxiety

Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases and drops at the right time during the day. A situation where a person is chronically elevated or deficient in cortisol is referred to as HPA dysfunction. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and fatigue.


The thyroid glands govern the body’s metabolism, use, and production of energy. When an individual’s thyroid is low, their brain produces low neurotransmitter levels, which are referred to as the Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that can cause anxiety.

Whenever the body’s hormones are not in balance, and estrogen is the dominant hormone, this can affect the brain neurotransmitters, leading to an overwhelming sense, panic attacks, and anxiety. It can also lead to some issues like uneasiness, apprehension, mood swings, and irritability.

How the Gut-Brain Axis Affects Anxiety

The gut-brain axis (GBA) is a complex communication network that links the central nervous system (CNS) and the gastrointestinal tract. This bidirectional system involves neural, hormonal, and immunological signaling pathways. Recent research has highlighted the significance of the gut-brain axis in various aspects of health, including mental health and anxiety.

  1. Microbiota Composition: The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These microbes play a crucial role in the gut-brain communication. Imbalances in the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, have been linked to increased anxiety and other mood disorders.
  2. Neurotransmitter Production: Gut bacteria can produce and modulate the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. For instance, about 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, influencing mood and anxiety.
  3. Inflammation: Dysbiosis can lead to increased intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), allowing pro-inflammatory substances to enter the bloodstream. This systemic inflammation can affect brain function and contribute to anxiety.
  4. Vagal Nerve Signaling: The vagus nerve, which extends from the brainstem to the abdomen, is a major pathway for gut-brain communication. Signals from the gut can influence brain function and vice versa, impacting stress responses and anxiety levels.
  5. Metabolites and Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs): Gut bacteria produce various metabolites, including SCFAs (like butyrate, propionate, and acetate), which have been shown to influence brain function and behavior. SCFAs can cross the blood-brain barrier and affect neuroinflammation and neurotransmitter systems.

Research Evidence Linking the Gut-Brain Axis to Anxiety

  1. Animal Studies: Research on rodents has shown that manipulating the gut microbiota through diet, antibiotics, or probiotics can influence anxiety-like behaviors. Germ-free mice (mice raised without exposure to any microorganisms) display altered anxiety and stress responses, which can be normalized by introducing specific microbial strains.
  2. Human Studies: Some studies suggest that individuals with anxiety disorders have distinct gut microbiota profiles compared to healthy controls. Clinical trials investigating the use of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) have reported reductions in anxiety symptoms, although results are still preliminary.
  3. Diet and Lifestyle: Diets rich in fiber, fermented foods, and prebiotics (which feed beneficial gut bacteria) have been associated with improved gut health and reduced anxiety. Conversely, diets high in processed foods and sugars may contribute to dysbiosis and increased anxiety.

Practical Implications

  1. Probiotics and Prebiotics: Supplementing with probiotics and consuming prebiotic-rich foods (such as garlic, onions, bananas, and whole grains) may support a healthy gut microbiota and reduce anxiety symptoms.
  2. Diet: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can promote a healthy gut microbiota. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are also beneficial.
  3. Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health, leading to dysbiosis and increased anxiety. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, exercise, and adequate sleep are important for both gut and mental health.

Things You Can Do to Help in Relieving Anxiety

Diet Change

Changing the way you eat can dramatically improve anxiety. A nutritional strategy to reduce anxiety is one of teh most important steps you can make to reduce the symptoms.

Your primary focus should be eating good quality, real, and whole food. Unrefined foods are nutrient-dense, and a majority of the nutrients will have to be replenished since anxiety is a deficiency of crucial nutrients that are important in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters.

The key is the combination of the amino acids from omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin B from the antioxidants, seafood from fruits and vegetables, and magnesium from dark leafy greens.

Ensure you eat anti-inflammatory food protocol and find out if you are sensitive or allergic to any food. This can be a big trigger for anxiety.

Reducing inflammation and healing the gut is important in curing anxiety because inflammation levels play a significant role in brain health.

Stabilized blood sugar is necessary for anxiety. Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Removing gluten from your diet can significantly impact lowering the symptoms of anxiety. Gluten grains are known to be very high in the glycemic index, which can generate insulin resistance and promote hypoglycemia. Gluten also comprises protein, which is difficult to digest and can interfere with mineral absorption, causing nutrient malabsorption.  

Eat healthy fats, as they support the production of hormones and help the brain function properly.

Eat quality proteins like grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, and lean meat like turkey, fish and eggs. Quality protein will help in assisting the brain in functioning better. Proteins are the building blocks that will support you during the day. Protein stabilizes levels of blood sugar and helps in reducing the amount of food that is consumed. It also helps in lessening the appetite. Protein consists of amino acids, and the protein you eat directly affects the amino acid levels in the brain and blood. These levels will also affect the levels of the neurotransmitters that play an essential role in the mood.

Eating organic and grass-fed meat would be best since they contain more minerals and vitamins like Vitamin B, glutathione, and vitamin E. Red meat is rich in iron, zinc, and selenium, which are essential in regulating mood. For people suffering from a deficiency in anxiety disorder, zinc and vitamin B6 play an important role. Red meat can be a great source of all these nutrients. Ensure you feed on it in moderation. Protein intake requires a minimum of 20 g of protein with each meal and then protein with some snacks.

Poultry is known to be a great source of amino acids like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B, selenium, and Tryptophan. All of those nutrients play an integral role in lessening anxiety symptoms. The egg yolk is rich in choline, which is essential in making a healthy brain.

It is highly recommended that we eat three meals and two snacks daily to help prevent sugar spikes and cravings that can lead to anxiety. Ensure breakfast is nutrient-dense and that the protein quality is high. 

Good fats are vital since they are essential to hormonal balance, physiological processes, and the nervous system. Fat also helps in the absorption of carotenoids. Add coconut butter, avocado, butter, ghee, coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil, and avocado oil to your diet. Eating more healthy fats will help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they are known to deplete vitamin B, the natural tranquilizer. Caffeine, a stimulant, will make you anxious. It elevates the heart rate and increases your blood sugar. Alcohol will increase the anxiety feeling and can cause hypoglycemia, which causes nutritional deficiency. Consumption of alcohol also affects tryptophan metabolism.

Eat food rich in fiber. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, which will prevent mood swings. Eat lots of dark, leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. 

Drink enough water and herbal teas with adaptogens like chamomile, lemon ginger, Ashwagandha, lemon balm, mint, rhodiola, and licorice. 

Drink at least 64 oz daily. Add other beverages like water with lemon, coconut water, and vegetable juice.

Eat food high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, cold-water fish, and walnuts. Seafood is an abundant in source of copper, iodine, chromium, zinc, and selenium. These elements are vital for the metabolism of healthy blood sugar and are also beneficial for mood disorders. Eat some good fatty fish such as sablefish, seabass, wild-caught salmon, and sardines. 

Seafood also contains Vitamins B12, A, and D. Fish is widely known as a brain food that corrects sugar cravings caused by excessive intake of cookies, pasta, and bread. 

Eating food rich in probiotics like kimchi, kombucha sauerkraut, yogurt, or kefir is essential. Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, raw sauerkraut, brined pickles, and kefir do help in improving digestive function, and they are capable of reducing inflammation. The probiotics will help enhance gut-brain communication and inflammation. They do have a direct influence on the neurochemicals.

Lacto-fermented foods are essential in supporting the communication of the gut-brain. Fermented foods are capable of magnifying the quality of protein and bioavailability of mood-regulating zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B. It helps preserve the vitamin C and polyphenols of the plant, which have higher anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Bitter herbs, such as ginger, artichoke leaf, Oregon grape root, and Dandelion, help stimulate liver and digestion functions. 

Eat foods rich in vitamin B, vital for a balanced mood and brain health. Some examples of foods rich in vitamin B are beans, eggs, dark leafy greens, nuts, and organ meats.

Booster foods such as bone broth offer minerals and amino acids. Sea vegetables provide extra vitamins and minerals.

Lifestyle Changes

Exercise, lifestyle changes, and supplements are also part of the natural approach that will help with all the issues related to anxiety. Changes in diet are the most important and among the most effective methods of assisting anxiety disorder. Changes in diet will help provide a strong foundation for brain chemistry.

Toxin accumulation in body tissues, including the nervous system, is one of the unrecognized and significant causes of panic attacks and anxiety. Detoxification is a reliable tool that helps in the cleansing or purification process, recovering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It can eliminate toxins that affect cognitive function and mental well-being.

Nutritional Support For Anxiety

1. Vitamin B6

This is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in tryptophan synthesis to serotonin. Tryptophan is a relaxing neurotransmitter, and it plays a role in mental stability and mood regulation. Vitamin B6 makes norepinephrine and serotonin, and they help transfer signals into the brain. Some of the primary sources of vitamin B are fish, chicken, sunflowers, carrots, grass-fed organic meat, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and alfalfa sprouts.

2. Magnesium

This is an essential mineral in the human body. It needs up to 300 enzymes for it to function, and it is vital in preventing headaches, cardiovascular disease, and blood pressure. It plays a critical role in regulating insulin and is also essential in preventing type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium is a mineral that relieves stress; it relaxes and calms. It also helps nourish the nervous system and prevent irritability and nervousness. Low magnesium intake is closely associated with anxiety disorders.

The best daily allowance is 350- 400 milligrams. However, since most people are deficient in magnesium, you can take 800 mg for therapeutic use in cases of anxiety. However, ensure that you take it with 1600 mg of calcium. Magnesium promotes restful sleep; hence, be sure you take it in chelated form.

Some magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, cocoa, beans, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, seaweeds, and flaxseeds.


Gamma-aminobutyric acid plays a crucial role in anxiety, and this takes place naturally in the brain. It is known to be one of the most crucial calming neurotransmitters and is also an amino acid. When its levels are down, it is mainly associated with poor sleep, stress, anxiety, and agitation. You will be stress-free and relaxed when you have enough GABA. Vitamin B6 is essential for GABA synthesis, and magnesium is an important component in GABA synthesis.

Always take GABA in between meals.

5. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and a protein building block that is converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter tasked with helping with anxiety symptoms. It also regulates mood and helps regulate stress.

When Tryptophan levels are insufficient, anxiety symptoms increase. Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and magnesium are essential for converting Tryptophan to serotonin in the brain. Tryptophan also helps improve mood and calm thoughts. It is found in both animal and plant proteins and is also present in turkey, chicken, beans, and eggs. It is recommended that one take 500 mg capsules a day.

6. Chromium

Chromium plays a vital role in controlling sugar. It helps increase insulin action, a hormone responsible for regulating glucose transfer from the bloodstream to cells, where it is used for energy and lower blood sugar levels.

Less insulin will be required when you have enough chromium in the body. There is also a smaller amount of chromium inside that blood that helps in glucose and insulin metabolism.

Chromium is the active factor in the glucose tolerance factor, GFT, and it helps the insulin be enough. When insulin does not have chromium, it cannot do its job. It helps increase the neurotransmitter serotonin levels and depression, including weight gain and increased appetite.

It improves anxiety symptoms since it has a close relationship with low serotonin. Consuming Chromium picolinate helps increase absorption.

Some foods rich in chromium include romaine lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, and green beans.

7. Valerian root

The Valerian root is a native plant commonly found in Europe and Asia. Its dried root and steam are normally used for medicinal purposes. It does have sedative properties, which can help in insomnia and anxiety. Recent studies have found that the Valerian root is effective when it comes to lessening anxiety symptoms. It can easily bind to the GABA receptors and help increase GABA release. It also activates glutamic acid, an enzyme that is involved in GABA synthesis. Take 400- 900 mg daily.

8. St. John’s worth

St. John’s wort is native to South and North America, Asia, and Europe, and it is well known for relieving mild to moderate anxiety, depression, and PMS. When taken in high doses, it can help in severe depression.

It has a similar effect as the standard antidepressant drug. It promotes a feeling of stability and control and improves mood.

Take 300 mg three times a day. Always ask a health practitioner if you can take St. John’s worth because it can interfere with the absorption of some medications!

9. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb. This means that it can increase resistance to stress without causing any disturbance to the body’s normal functioning. It also reduces serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine breakdown.

It grows in Europe and Asia and has been used for several years for medical purposes. It can best be used in a relatively short period.

Individuals who experience anxiety attacks need to change their lifestyles. A healthy diet, together with the right nutritional supplement, can be of great benefit and can help in reducing overall anxiety and panic attacks.

Ketogenic Diet and Anxiety

The ketogenic diet, known for its low-carbohydrate and high-fat content, has been primarily studied for its benefits in weight loss and epilepsy. However, there is emerging interest in its potential effects on mental health, including anxiety.

Mechanisms Potentially Linking Ketogenic Diet to Anxiety Reduction

  1. Neurotransmitter Balance: The ketogenic diet can influence the levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate, which play critical roles in anxiety regulation. Increased GABA levels can have a calming effect on the brain.
  2. Neuroinflammation: Chronic inflammation is linked to various mental health conditions, including anxiety. The ketogenic diet has anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce neuroinflammation.
  3. Oxidative Stress: This diet increases the production of ketones, which serve as an efficient energy source for the brain and reduce oxidative stress, potentially improving brain function and mood.
  4. Blood Sugar Stability: By stabilizing blood sugar levels, the ketogenic diet may prevent the mood swings and energy dips that can contribute to anxiety.

Medical Advice: For those experiencing significant anxiety, it’s essential to seek advice from healthcare professionals. Integrating gut health strategies with traditional treatments (like therapy and medication) may provide a more comprehensive approach to managing anxiety.

Please feel free to comment or ask any questions below. Share the blog on Instagram with the hashtag #thetastesoflifeholisticblog .


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