As a Functional Nutritionist, I help clients with a variety of health issues. Many of these issues people readily understand that their diet can impact. Others can be a surprise. One of these “surprise” situations is anxiety.
Understandably, a lot of people are having increased anxiety these days. Let’s face it, there is a lot of stuff happening in the world that can be pretty scary. Between COVID-19 and social unrest, we worry about our health, our family members, our financial situation, our jobs, and just what our world is going to look like in 6 weeks or 6 months’ time.
If you have been following me for a while, then you have heard me talk about epigenetics before. Briefly, epigenetics is taking your unique genes and learning where your body has genetic weaknesses that we can support and strengthen. (You can read more about epigenetics here and testing here on my website.
Does it surprise you to learn that anxiety can be a genetic vulnerability for some people?
What is anxiety? According to Anxiety.org,
Anxiety is the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It’s the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of Anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels far from normal – it can be completely debilitating.
All of us feel some anxiety from time to time. That is normal. But for some people, anxiety can get out of hand because of circumstances in their lives. And some people suffer from anxiety disorders and panic attacks.
There is a specific pathway that the body uses to clear out the things that cause anxiety. Some people are genetically prone to a restriction of this pathway, which makes clearing it difficult. We can discover whether this is the situation for you through epigenetic testing.
No doubt, you have heard of the “fight or flight” response. The purpose of this response in our autonomic nervous system is to keep us safe. And it worked really, really, well for thousands of years. It is what allows humans (and other mammals) to react quickly when facing a life-threatening situation–like a hungry tiger! It involves a series of chemical changes in our body that helps us to fight off the threat or run away from it.
That sounds great, but the downside is that this biological feature can’t really distinguish between serious life-threatening stresses like facing that tiger vs the every day stresses of modern life, such as getting stuck in traffic, or suddenly having to homeschool the kids because COVID-19 has shut down schools!
The result with all this stress is our clearing pathway has its own traffic jam as it were, and we can’t clear it out.
There are 3 main ways that a Functional Nutritionist can help clearing the pathways. Which is the right one for you?
Well, that is going to depend on your situation and your epigenetics. Think about clearing the driveway after a snow. You might have different ways of handling that, depending on the depth of the snow, and even the type of snow.
In Colorado we often have super fine, dry, powdery snow—the kind that makes our skiing so great. If you get a small amount of this kind of snow, and it is a sunny day, you might not have to do anything, the snow will melt away on its own. But if your drive faces north, you will probably want to remove the snow, so it doesn’t freeze. The good news is you can actually clear a driveway pretty easily with just a broom and a little bit of effort.
A little deeper dry snow takes more effort to clear but is still not that hard. Now, a spring snow that is wet and heavy, that takes more work and you are going to want a shovel! And when we have a blizzard, you just might want to break out the snow blower.
Similarly, we have different approaches to clearing your stress pathway that I like to compare to ways you can help your car run better.
Bottom line, while some anxiety is normal, if you frequently feel anxious or your anxiety levels have been increasing and causing you concern, it might be time to make an appointment to discuss the best options for you. We can review your history, family history and do epigenetic testing to determine which plan of action is the right way for this Functional Nutritionist to help you reduce your anxiety levels.
If you are currently under a physician’s care for anxiety or an anxiety disorder, do not stop taking any medications or other treatments without first discussing it with your physician. I will gladly work with your doctor so that you have a full team that is supporting you while we clear away those pathways and help reduce your anxiety levels.
Lady in mask photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
Tiger photo by Paul Morley on Unsplash
Shoveling drive photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash
Car in snow photo by Andrey Zvyagintsev on Unsplash