Low zinc and anxiety

Zinc plays a crucial role in brain function. Zinc up regulates a brain protein used for regulating mood and stress. Research has shown the suboptimal levels of zinc affect the levels of a nerve chemical called GABA, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces feelings of fear and anxiety, so if GABA is affected, anxious feelings might crop up.

Another thing to keep in mind: the zinc-copper-anxiety link.

In a preliminary study, individuals with anxiety had significantly higher plasma levels of copper. Zinc and copper are a good example of frenamies. They are highly competitive. They work against each other and compete with each other for absorption, therefore if you are low in zinc of are not absorbing zinc well then copper will raise naturally. This imbalance of zinc and copper levels can directly affect thoughts and behaviour, and have an impact on anxiety. 

What can you do?

Copper is naturally occurring in many foods and an important functional mineral for the body, we want it but not to much of it. As to much can displace zinc - and we don’t want that either, we need that minearal sweet spot, so, what can you do.

  • Up your zinc foods - This is the first go to, because in doing this the body can regulate mineral balance much better, so you’re good zinc foods include: Pumpkin seeds, beef, yogurt, oysters, legumes - kidney beans, chickpeas

  • Look at copper containing contraceptive options such as birth control pill and copper IUD’s

  • Check your water pipes - We live in old house and our pipes are made from copper, we can’t replace the pipes! So I use a decent water filter system

  • Multi-vitamins - check the multi ingredients as a fair few will contain copper (I don’t recommend taking multi’s without seeking advice)

How else can you address zinc status

There has been ongoing research how zinc deficiency effects anxiety inducing behaviours and a study has shown that supplementation of zinc has been used successful to address these feelings. However, long term supplementation of one mineral always has an impact on other minerals, especially iron and copper so it is not advisable to supplement isolated minerals long term. Supplementation is always best through a practitioner. 

What else can effect zinc status

Have you ever found that when you’ve been through a stressful period or an anxious episode, right at the tail end of it you get ill, well, that’s because stress chews up a lot of zinc. Zinc is also an immune system supporter. We can’t always stop the stress, but in times of stress or when we are anxiety levels are higher than usual, we can opt for rich zinc containing foods, try a handful of soaked pumpkin seeds on a soup or do a big beef stew in a miso and ginger broth. It’s adding it in everyday that keeps things on at a good baseline.

I will be hosting a workshop on this subject with practical tips on how to incorporate nutrition into your everyday to address these feelings. Tickets here: https://tinyurl.com/yxg8yhxv




Magnesium and anxiety link

Magnesium is probably the number 1 mineral you’ve heard about the most. It’s a master mineral and is responsible for the correct metabolic function of over 350 enzymes in the body. There is emerging research that we are definitely not getting enough of it. In fact, research shows that many people are sub clinically deficient in magnesium, this becomes a problem because when magnesium levels are low, this can contribute and exacerbate many neuropsychiatric problems, including anxiety. Present research demonstrates the validity emerging evidence in humans that reduced magnesium levels are associated with different facets of anxiety behaviour.

Where can I get my magnesium from?

Some of the top foods that contain this marvellous mineral are: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, tempeh and black eyed peas. If you are consuming a good diet with a range of vegetables, good sources of proteins and fats then you are well on your way. The only thing that is tricky is that we don’t really know exactly how much magnesium is in our foods. Several studies of historical food composition tables show an apparent decline in food nutrient content over the past 70 years. This is due to loss of soil fertility by ongoing industrial agriculture.

We know magnesium is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables because as the produce grows, it takes up minerals from the soil, however, if the soil is lacking or depleted in minerals the veggies won’t contain as much. if minerals are not first present in the soil they will not be present in the produce grown.

So what do we do in order to ensure we can get enough magnesium?

I will always advocate food first, because if you are prioritising magnesium rich foods you will be prioritising a nutrient rich diet, this is at the heart of addressing anxious feelings. A nutrient dense diet will naturally go towards a way of eating that keeps blood sugar levels in balance and will be low in stimulating foods and beverages, key factors in regulating anxious episodes. After using food first, magnesium is one of the minerals which can be successfully supplemented, however, self supplementing is not something I recommend, as there are different types of magnesium, eg, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium aspartate, magnesium glycinate and magnesium gluconate. They all work differently in the body and absorb differently. Working with a practitioner to design a personalised supplement protocol is definitely recommended.

Other ways of incorporating magnesium into your routine to address anxiety

Bathe and Spray - I get asked a lot about magnesium being taken topically, ie - sprays, bathed in or skin cream, some say that this is a better option to increase magnesium in the body, however, there just isn’t the conclusive research to back this up. Transdermal magnesium is great if we’re talking about a relaxing form of muscle ease, magnesium after all is great for aching muscles, bathing in an epsom salt bath understandably, will relax the body and give the mind time to switch off, which is great for someone having anxious feelings. Does it increase the serum magnesium levels in the body? The honest answer is that the evidence is just not there yet.  However incorporating magnesium foot soaks, baths and sprays on tight muscles is something that can be beneficial.

I will be hosting a workshop on this subject with practical tips on how to incorporate nutrition into your everyday to address these feelings. Tickets here: https://tinyurl.com/yxg8yhxv

Hormones and anxiety

In England women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men.* Also, general anxiety disorders are more common in people from the ages of 35 to 59. So we can see then that this age bracket also correlates with the natural hormonal changes that all women go through during this time.

So why are we feeling this way?

There can be many causes of anxiety and it can range from a low level hum to accute panic attacks. If we view it from a hormone perspective, we see that oestrogen, which is in flux during this time can exacerbate common anxiety symptoms, such as, a faster heart rate, flushing in the face and neck, intense heat, a feeling of overwhelm that comes on suddenly.

On a personal note

Speaking from my own personal experience, my hormones - anxiety link can cause sudden heart palpitations. When I first experienced the palpitations, I didn’t know the cause, and this worry only made the symptoms worse, but if we look at one of oestrogen’s many roles, we see that it is involved with modulating heart beat and blood pressure. Now I know if these symptoms crop up I can experience them without letting it build into a full anxious episode. I have the right nutrition and targeted supplementation in my toolbox and I adjust lifestyle choices too. Obviously if you are feeling things aren’t right, go to the GP and get a check up, I did and in that way I ruled out lots of things that were worrying me.

If you are feeling these feelings, what can you do?

  1. Talk to someone - this in itself can sign-post you to the support you need. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone with these feelings, and you are really are not alone, can help. There are many women who feel the same as you and want to know how to manage these symptoms.

  2. Get a full health check at the GP - Women can blame themselves for their symptoms, eg, you feel this way because you don’t get enough sleep, or you take on to much in the day etc.. however, a lot of the time, there are underlying causes to feeling this way. For example, your stress hormone cortisol could be raised, your thyroid could be underactive, you blood pressure might be elevated. So can can see there might be other things coming into play to keep you feeling anxious.

  3. Check your cup - With this I mean, what’s in your cup? Are you relying on tea and coffee and not drinking enough water. Caffeine alone will raise your cortisol and if you’re mildly dehydrated this too can impact on cortisol input. So if you can up your water intake, limit caffeine to 1 a day and take it before midday.

  4. Check your plate - So how much green leafy veg do you get a day? Green leafy veg = magnesium. Magnesium is needed to maintain healthy GABA levels. GABA, is a neurotransmitter that can help your mind and body to relax, Magnesium has been shown to improve sleep and anxious feelings.

Feeling anxious is not to be dismissed or unacknowledged. Speaking form personal experience, it can feel debilitating and isolating. There is not one magic pill to ‘cure’ it. Anxiety is a sum of lots of parts. But there is a way through it , firstly by acknowledging it, calling it out for what it is, you feel anxiety but you are not defined by it. Get checked over to see if there’s underlying issues, then start to look at your current lifestyle and nutrition to really address the root cause and can help you to add in some tools that will really support and work for you.

I will be hosting a workshop on this subject with practical tips on how to incorporate nutrition into your everyday to address these feelings. Tickets here: https://tinyurl.com/yxg8yhxv

*Martin-Merino, E., Ruigomez, A., Wallander, M., Johansson, S. and GarciaRodriguez, L. (2009). Prevalence, incidence, morbidity and treatment patterns in a cohort of patients diagnosed with anxiety in UK primary care. Family Practice, 27(1), pp.9-16.

Why I eat broccoli everyday

Broccoli helps your hormones.

Really? Yes, indeed!

Broccoli is from the Brassica family. Brassica’s contain something called Diindolylmethane or DIM for short. DIM is one of the liver’s best friends, it supports Phase 1 metabolism in the liver. This is where your oestrogen gets dismantled, this is a really important part of regulating your hormone health, how well your liver sorts out used up oestrogen, really helps to manage the common hormone symptoms you might be experiencing. Liver detox support is key in hormone issues, the indoles found in broccoli and other brassicas help to detoxify that excess oestrogen. So you can see why these veggies need to be on your plate everyday.

Why else is brocolli so good?

Fibre - Everyday fibre is really important, We can’t escape all the toxins. However, if you can get good fibre into your diet then it’s going to keep you on the regular, which is so important as it helps to get things moving, it can address any defective digestion (ahem, think constipation) and improve toxin excretion.

Prebiotics - Now you might have heard of Pro-biotics but what about Pre-biotics? Pre-biotics are your good gut bacteria’s favourite food and fuel. One good example of a pre-biotic are broccoli stalks (you know that bit that usually gets thrown in the bin with the little elastic band that ties it up), they are actually really good for us, so don’t chuck it! Those not so preety veggie stalks play an important role in gut health by giving your good bacteria cellulose fibres (fav food). I usually slice the stalk into discs and throw it in along with the broccoli in the steamer.

Things to keep in mind

Try to keep it organic. Broccoli features on Environmental Working Groups Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list, access a copy here. This list helps you avoid the Dirty Dozen, the non-organic fruits and vegetables that are highest in pesticide residues. Buying organic everything is expensive and I’m a realist, so if you can prioritise buying the dirty dozen organic it will go along way to keeping toxin exposure down. However the great news is is that brocolli is on the Clean 15 list!

How to include it into dishes

My go-to is usually steamed for a few minutes only, keep those nutrients in, then mix through salad greens like rocket and watercress, this takes minutes and then serve with protein of choice and a delicious dressing.

Or oven roast some broccoli in olive oil and Tamari and either have as part of a roast or keep them in the fridge to add to lunch on the go like a pasta salad.

Or, how about a pesto? Raw broccoli whizzed with lots of luscious herbs and a little linseed oil, garlic, lemon juice and pine nuts.

My 3 detox tools I use everyday

As a general rule, I try to help support my liver as best I can. It’s the hardest working endocrine and exocrine organ around. I’m not a believer in hard and fast detoxes. Usually, I see clients with over burdened systems and attempting a forceful detox just pulls out stored toxins from the system and makes you feel worse rather than better. I like to support the liver everyday by putting some easy to use methods in place:

Detox tool number 1

Dry brushing. You’ve probably got an old loofah or even a scratchy hand mitt as part of a Boots Christmas pack lurking in the back of your bathroom cabinets. Now is the time to dig it out and start using it. Not only does dry brushing exfoliate dead skin cells it most importantly, encourages good lymphatic flow (the lymphatics are the “clean up vessels” of the body and travel closely to the surface of the skin).The lymphatic system is a fantastic detox highway, but it needs to be stimulated to be efficient, dry brushing can help.

Detox tool number 2

Apologies in advance for this next one, but I do recommend using a ‘poo stool’ or more commonly known as the squatty potty. Some say the colon doesn’t fully relax in a normal toilet sitting position. Squatting, or raising the legs on a stool, aligns the colon and peristalsis (movement) is improved. Our pooping methods are one of the most important detox tools we have, we have to be going everyday, so prioritising this ritual is important. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you can try elevating your feet on a couple of loo rolls and see how you get on. If it works for you, look into getting a stool that works for your height, you don’t want your legs to high or it can get uncomfortable!

Detox tool number 3

Let’s talk about bad breath. This can be a sign that your detox system is not at it’s best. Any kind of wrong-ish aroma has to be looked a as it might be a build up of bacteria in our mouth. To get around this I recommend tongue scraping. Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue; the scraping action of a tongue scraper collects these toxic tongue coatings (which can range in colour from clear, white, yellow, or green) and removes them from the body. This is the one I use: http://tinyurl.com/yy4y3hl2