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Common causes of anxiety

Common causes of anxiety

by Ms Melanie White 24/04/2019

Anxiety is a common disorder with many contributing causes and factors, however, many of these are related to nutritional deficiencies.

Todays’ fast-paced lifestyle means food choices are full of highly processed, nutrient poor options.

Anxiety is the body’s normal defence response to danger or perceived danger, also known as the “fight or flight response". It gets activated by emotional stress. An anxiety disorder is seen when anxiety continues long after the stressor has been removed.

Anxiety can be associated with:

  • Increase in blood pressure, palpitations
  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Sleep disorders
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Increase in perspiration
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Increased sensitivity to pain


Anxiety and stress can cause blood glucose fluctuations, resulting in an increase and exacerbation of anxiety symptoms. Foods, such as high glycaemic index options and simple sugars, can also cause this sharp rise in blood glucose and insulin levels. To deal better with stress simply increase complex carbs and fibres in your diet, focus on fruits and vegetable sources and reduce sugary foods and beverages. Focus on a whole food diet.


Magnesium Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral, often found depleted in Western diets and involved in large variety of biochemical reactions. Magnesium helps modulate stress and anxiety responses, lower blood pressure, improve glucose tolerance and reduce neuronal excitation. Foods high in magnesium include: green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Copper/Zinc Elevated copper levels and low zinc levels are associated with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, brain fog, nervousness glucose imbalance and sexual dysfunction. Zinc is required to balance and support copper and healthy neurotransmitters levels in modulating mood. Copper can be elevated and zinc low with vegetarian and vegan diets. Foods high in zinc include: pumpkin seeds, oysters, seafood, poultry, beef and lamb.

Caffeine Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverage following water, which is not surprising due to its stimulating effects. Caffeine however can increase anxiety symptoms, headaches and restlessness. It's best to avoid caffeine or slowly reduce it, as it can exacerbate symptoms of nervousness, jitters and restlessness (such as elevated blood pressure and stress response: increased level of stress hormiones cortisol, noradrenaline and adrenaline).
Organic green tea is a far better option- it's tolerated by most people and full of health benefits including neuroprotection. It can also have a calming effect my reducing cortisol levels (see my blog on anti-inflammatories).

Please note: Supplementation must not be taken without professional instruction. Please contact a health care provider for further information prior to taking mentioned supplements.

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