Did you know that anxiety affects 40 million adults today? (1) Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors which is why I want to share the top two underlying causes of anxiety with you in the post. I truly understand how anxiety can significantly impair your overall quality of life.
I myself, suffered from debilitating anxiety when I was in college. I suddenly started having panic attacks. I was under a lot of stress, and the panic attacks seemed to just come out of nowhere. I missed a lot of school, and these panic attacks were so debilitating that I started having anxiety about having a panic attack. It was a vicious cycle and something that I wanted to get to the bottom of.
I soon found out that my panic attacks were caused by having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). My blood sugar levels were dropping so quickly, and my cortisol was not stabilized. I learned that both blood sugar imbalances and cortisol issues can drive one another. On top of not having any adrenal support, my anxiety was quickly becoming out of control. However, once I learned what was the underlying cause of these panic attacks and anxiety, I started eating to support my blood sugar levels and to support my adrenals. I learned that my body needed to eat protein and fat with every meal and that I needed to eat every couple of hours to keep my blood sugar levels stable. Once I got a good grasp on the dietary changes I needed to make, I felt so much better!
I wanted to tell you my personal story, because it is something that I see in my practice daily, and it is so important to understand that blood sugar imbalances, as well as cortisol issues, can both lead to anxiety, and the two can drive one another. Blood sugar issues can lead to cortisol imbalances and vice versa.
When a patient comes to my practice with anxiety, these two underlying causes of anxiety are the first things I talk about, and it always just seems to click, and make sense. So, let’s get started by talking about ways that you can help stabilize the adrenal glands and cortisol levels as well as your blood sugar so that you can start feeling less anxious, and start eating to support overall health. First, let’s look at some of the symptoms of imbalanced cortisol and low blood sugar.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
- Feeling dizzy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability or mood swings
- Brain fog
- Intense hunger
Symptoms of High Cortisol
- Mood swings
- Skin issues
- Increase in heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
- High blood pressure
How to Get Rid of Anxiety
Support the Adrenals
Supporting the adrenal glands is an important part of controlling anxiety. The adrenal glands produce cortisol as well as adrenaline which both play a role in anxiety. When your adrenal glands are taxed, you can suffer from either high or low cortisol which can both be problematic. Overtaxing your adrenal glands can also ultimately lead to adrenal fatigue.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have an issue with your cortisol levels, you may find you have difficulty sleeping. This is because your body will use adrenaline to raise blood sugar levels when there is an imbalance in cortisol, and adrenaline will wake up your brain so a lot of people will have an issue with staying asleep in the middle of the night. A good way to fix this is having a protein-rich snack before bed such as three ounces of protein, like a hard-boiled egg or 3 oz. nitrate and gluten-free turkey.
Here are some additional lifestyle, and dietary steps you can take to support the adrenals, as well as some supplements that can be very beneficial.
- Support Blood Sugar Levels: It is important to know that blood sugar issues can lead to adrenal issues, and adrenal issues can lead to blood sugar issues.
- Reduce Stress: Try to reduce all forms of stress by using techniques such as mindfulness training and taking time for yourself daily.
- Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is essential for healthy adrenal function, strive to get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Keep in mind that some people may need more if dealing with adrenal fatigue. You may need 8-10 hours.
- Cut out Caffeine, Alcohol & Sugar: These can all stress your adrenal glands and cause blood sugar issues.
- Exercise: Do some gentle exercise daily to support energy levels. Walking, and yoga are great.
Supplements for Adrenal Support
One of my favorite supplements for adrenal support is Adrenal Solution. This is a high-quality formulation that contains all the supplements you need to support healthy adrenal function including adaptogenic herbs, and vitamin C. Adaptogenic herbs can help balance hormones, reduce fatigue, and even support blood sugar levels. Since this supplement contains a wide variety of adaptogenic herbs, it is great for both high or low cortisol, as it adapts to the situation in the body. It is important NOT to take JUST any adrenal supplement, as some are geared specifically towards low or high cortisol. Adrenal solutions can be used for either. It just helps you maintain balance.
Adrenal solutions contains:
- Vitamin C
- Panax Ginseng
- Holy Basil
Stabilize Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar was a huge driving factor when it came to my anxiety and panic attacks. An imbalance in blood sugar is a huge cause of anxiety. If you have any of the above symptoms, you may be dealing with hypoglycemia. However, another common symptom is waking up in the middle of the night. This can happen if your blood sugar levels are low. Here are some tips on how to stabalize blood sugar levels.
- Consume well-balanced meals and snacks: Be sure you are getting enough protein and fats with some complex carbohydrates in each meal.
- Avoid eating fruit alone: Consume a piece of fruit with a healthy source of fat and or protein.
- Eat a healthy meal or snack every couple of hours or as needed to support stable blood sugar levels: Keep in mind that everyone will be different. Some people need to eat hourly, others can go a few hours.
- Don’t Go to Bed Hungry: If you find you wake up in the middle of the night, enjoy a protein-rich snack like a hard-boiled egg before bed.
- Enjoy a high fiber diet: Add lots of vegetables, low-sugar fruits, nuts and seeds to your diet to boost your fiber intake.
- Support the Adrenal Glands: Blood sugar issues can lead to adrenal issues, and adrenal issues can lead to blood sugar issues.
Supplements for Blood Sugar Support
- Chromium & Inositol: These can both help stabilize blood sugar, but please only use them under the care of a doctor who can dose properly as everyone is different.
- Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet, as the body cannot make them, so they must be obtained from the diet. Not only are they helpful for overall health, and inflammation, some studies have found that omega-3 supplementation may be beneficial for those with anxiety. (2) It is important to determine whether or not a fatty acid deficiency is present.
A Perfectly Balanced Meal for Blood Sugar Support
Need some help determine what a well-balanced meal for blood sugar support would look like? Here is a balanced meal that contains complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Be sure to eat like this for all of your meals, and snacks. Combining complex carbs with healthy fats, and protein is an important part of supporting optimal blood sugar levels. An example of a well-balanced meal would be three ounces of chicken with ½ of an avocado, 1 cup of steamed broccoli, and ¼ of a sweet potato or yucca.
If you are experiencing anxiety or any of the symptoms of hypoglycemia or imbalanced cortisol levels, I do an amazing test that checks the adrenals and blood sugar thoroughly. This test shows exactly what may be going on so that I can create a plan to help you get stable.
An Adaptogenic Tea Recipe
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp. ashwagandha root powder
- 2 tsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- Cinnamon for serving
- Start by adding the water, coconut milk, ashwagandha root powder, and pure maple syrup to a stockpot over low heat and whisk well.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Serve with a pinch of cinnamon.
If you are suffering from weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and more, click here to schedule a phone call with me, so I can find out where you’ve been, where you want to get to, and how I can help you get there.
I know exactly where you are because I’ve been there myself…I remember being so tired that I could barely function. I gained 30 pounds out of nowhere and had a severe case of brain fog. I also started to get severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was driven and motivated…until I wasn’t. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I wanted was to get my life back…
Finally, I learned about functional medicine and found a practitioner that I hoped could help me. They ran specialized tests that were far different than I had ever had before. When I got the results back, it turned out I had candida, parasites, high cortisol, the Epstein Bar Virus and many food intolerances. I also had an issue with my thyroid that no one found before because they were using the conventional medicine lab ranges which are way too broad….which I now know is one of the leading causes of hypothyroid misdiagnosis.
I went through treatment of all of these things and it completely changed my life. I immediately lost the 30 pounds I had gained plus more, I had a lot more energy, and my brain fog was gone. I felt amazing and knew that I wanted to help people find the underlying causes of their symptoms and disease.
Facts & Statistics. Anxiety and Depression Associated of America.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Hypoglycemia Symptoms Improved with Diet Modification. (2014) NCBI.