It has many names – generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder – but most of those who suffer from one of its many subgroups simply refer to it as anxiety. However, fear is not easy, especially when it comes to understanding the causes and looking for a cure.
Preliminary research related to anxiety has shown that what we eat can affect the appearance, worsening, and relief of symptoms of anxiety. It was recently discovered that a food-related substance has a strong association with anxiety, namely omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Amazing results from a small study have shown that consuming high-dose omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can dramatically reduce anxiety-related symptoms in patients with a clinical diagnosis.
But what exactly are these fatty acids, how do you incorporate them into your diet as a plant eater and are they safe? As we delve deeply into the relationship between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and anxiety, remember that any diet change or supplementation should be checked by a doctor first!
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Anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million people over the age of 18, and unfortunately only a little over 36 percent receive treatment. However, due to the vast epidemic-like state of anxiety-related disorders, a spurt of research has begun to shed light on the dark corners of this seemingly vast psychological condition. Anxiety is usually incredibly complex – it is based on various factors such as “genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events” – but one path that is increasingly being explored is lifestyle, and especially diet.
What are Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids?
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Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are an essential part of human health that was published only recently and has tremendous and consistently surprising benefits.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are made up of three acids: a-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plants, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of the latter found in marine life. especially fatty fish meat and fish oils. These fatty acids are capable of influencing many internal cell functions, including the “nature of cell membranes and membrane protein-mediated reactions”, lipid mediator generation, cell signaling, and gene expression. In short, these fatty acids are “essential for normal biochemical function in the adult brain”.
While all three acids are important, the EPA and DHA acids, also called very long chain omega-3s, are key to these newly discovered brain-related benefits. They have also been linked to overall improved health, protection from disease – particularly cardiovascular morbidity and rheumatoid arthritis – as well as reduced inflammation and improved cognitive abilities, especially in children. However, one of the most drastic and exciting discoveries is the relationship between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and nerve cell membranes, a relationship that affects the risk of developing and relieving behavioral disorders.
The Relationship Between Omega-3 PUFAs and Anxiety
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In September 2018, the JAMA network published a study by Yutaka J. Matsuoka, MD, PhD, who works in the Health Research Division at the National Cancer Center in Japan, which found that omega-3 PUFAs had a profound effect on the human body Symptoms of anxiety disorder. The study, which enrolled 1,203 participants who were given either placebo or different doses of omega-3 PUFA treatment, concluded that “omega-3 PUFA treatment may be associated with a reduction in anxiety which may not just be due to a potential placebo ”. Effect, but also from the associations of a treatment with reduced anxiety symptoms. “
While the anti-anxiety benefits (known as the anxiolytic effects) of these omega-3 PUFAs were found to be more pronounced in patients with clinical diagnosis, the far-reaching effects of the study result for those suffering from anxiety are incredibly exciting. The authors of this study are entering a further phase of the study and will hopefully be able to build on even more data soon!
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Before changing your diet, it is important to speak to a doctor. The human body has a similar structure and yet we are all very different and may react poorly to a change in diet. While also speaking with a professional, take the time to find the right supplement and dosage based on your age, weight, and lifestyle.
Fortunately, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board created a reference guide called the Dietary Reference Intake. This Nutritional Reference Chart is a guide for generally healthy people based on age and gender. Due to the fact that there is so little research on omega-3 PUFAs, the Dietary Reference Intake Guide provides Recommendations on Appropriate Intake (AI) – to meet nutritional adequacy – rather than Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – and provides an average daily intake Intake sufficient to meet the requirements
For example, an adequate intake of 1.6 grams for men and 1.1 grams for women is recommended for adults between the ages of 18 and 50. These numbers are also influenced by pregnant women as well as breastfeeding women. Therefore, it needs to be reiterated that it is of the utmost importance to speak to a doctor before starting any supplementary therapy.
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Those who practice a plant-based diet face greater challenges as the specific omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids associated with reduced anxiety symptoms are found in marine life (such as oily fish and fish oils). If you are strictly a vegetarian or vegan, this is an even bigger hurdle to overcome. But this is where nutritional supplements really shine! Once you’ve got the thumbs up from your doctor, give some of these omega-3 supplements a try!
Sundown Naturals Vegetarian Omega 3-6-9
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Sundown Naturals offers a unique blend of supplements that not only offers a dose of this anti-anxiety omega-3, but omega-6 and omega-9 as well. Sundown Naturals Vegetarian Omega 3-6-9 is made from cold-pressed flaxseed oil and sunflower oil, which really makes it a purely vegetarian option. With this in mind, it’s important to note that research into the effects of alpha-linolenic acid (vegetable omega-3) on anxiety is still new. As a result, this vegetarian option may not have the anxiety-related effects you want. This supplement is also 100 percent free from dairy, lactose, gluten, wheat, and artificial flavors.
Would you like to include more omega-3 in your diet? Look no further, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster app, available for both Android and iPhone, and also available on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 herbal, allergy-friendly recipes and subscribers get daily access to new recipes. Listen!
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