anxiety spelled with scrabble tiles

I see lots of anxiety in my clinic.  Don’t get me wrong: my space is wonderful and quite calming. What I mean is that many of my clients are coming in because they are having issues with anxiety. Sometimes they don’t even really know that they are experiencing high levels of anxiety, or they don’t realize that as a Functional Nutritionist I can help them reduce their anxiety levels.

If you are experiencing anxiety, please know that you are not alone. Culturally, there has been a significant increase in anxiety levels. Several factors contribute to this increase.

Factor 1 is Magnesium Deficiency.

Americans tend to be deficient in magnesium. It is estimated that 80% of Americans are deficient in this key mineral. 80%! That means there is a very good chance you are, too.

The COMT gene has been shown to be a key player in contributing to anxiety. And guess what—this gene needs magnesium to operate effectively!

So, the very first thing I suggest you do if you’re experiencing anxiety is increase your magnesium intake.

Natural Ways to Increase Magnesium

foods high in magnesium reduce anxiety

You can boost your magnesium intake by snacking on pumpkin seeds or cashews and topping your salads with sesame seeds or sunflower seeds.

Leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss Chard, and beet greens are also great sources of magnesium.

And, dried beans such as black beans rock magnesium, too.

Another nice way to get magnesium is to simply soak in a bath of Epson salts. Use 3-4 cups of salt per bath and feel your anxiety melt away.

Factor Two: Other Factors Can Impede the COMT Gene

Low levels of magnesium are not the only thing that can negatively impact your COMT gene.

While magnesium is a no-brainer and something that everyone can safely try, the other factors are more complicated. To determine what might be impacting the COMT gene in your body, we need to run a genomic test. With this test we can see if there is anything else that is keeping your gene from working effectively, resulting in your anxiety.

For example, it may be that inflammation is suppressing your COMT gene. With genomic testing it is possible to determine if specific inflammatory compounds are the culprit. Once we know what the ‘enemy’ is, we can create a plan to reduce the effect that the compound is having on your COMT gene.

One thing you might want to consider is diffusing Melissa oil. The Melissa plant is also known as Lemon Balm and is part of the mint family. This plant has been shown to help your COMT gene work faster and lower anxiety levels.

Melissa oil is available through quality essential oil companies such as DoTerra and Young Living.  One of my clients diffuses Melissa oil at her desk while at work and swears it significantly lowers her anxiety levels.

masks of anxiety

Factor Three: Gluten

The next big area I look at when coaching someone with anxiety is gluten.

I know, I know.  You don’t want to hear that gluten is the big evil it has been made out to be.

Many people in the medical community think that the only reason to avoid gluten is if you have celiac disease. As a Functional Nutritionist I know that some of the antigens our body produces in response to wheat can cause depression and anxiety.  The only test that can tell you if that’s a reality in your life is the Vibrant America Wheat Zoomer.

Granted, clients come to me because they are having issues, but in my clinic every single client I’ve run that test–on except one–has shown a negative reaction that affects moods, digestion, skin, or lung function.  So, if you are experiencing anxiety there is a good chance that gluten may be a contributing factor.

Factor Four: Gut Health

The next area to explore is gut health.

Did you know that most of our serotonin is made in the GI tract?  If your GI is inflamed or infected, your production of serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, will be reduced. A healthy gut leads to overall health, both physically and mentally.

Factor Five: Lifestyle

lifestyle impacts anxiety

Finally, lifestyle factors play a role and needs to be considered.

Are you engaging with your friends and family, do you feel like a part of a community?

Are you spending a lot of time on social media?

Are you neglecting your exercise routine? Do you take time to meditate, relax, or take in deep breaths?

Are you spending time doing things that ‘spark joy’ as Marie Kondo would say? Or are you in ‘all work no play’ mode?

These are all areas that can contribute to increased anxiety—or can help reduce your anxiety.

If anxiety is impacting your life, give me a call and let’s figure out the best plan of attack, from a functional nutrition perspective, to reduce your anxiety levels.