With finals week quickly approaching, I have unfortunately not had a lot of time to sit down and write new material for my blog. I know, I’m sad too. Almost as sad as I am brain dead from studying #college.
Luckily for you guys, I wrote a lot of awesome nutritional pieces in my Research and Writing in Dietetics course this semester and I found the perfect article to recycle! The appropriate timing of this blog post is in correlation to the topic, which just so happens to be consuming the souls of all college students this week- Anxiety.
Student or not, this post can hopefully help those in any range of life as anxiety uncomfortably affects millions of people in the US on a daily basis. As a person who constantly struggles with anxiety, I hope that the holistic approach explained in the news brief below helps you find the same relief in your symptoms as I have noticed in mine.
But if you are a student studying for finals this week, I just hope it helps you to not pull all of your hair out. Wouldn’t blame ya though!
Good luck on finals & thanks for reading!
Author: Mikayla Cupp
Affiliation: Dietetic Student, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
Title: Anxiety & Weight Gain: The Correlation and Foods That Help Reduce Them
Anxiety. A disorder that so openly plagues todays society, and one that can especially be seen torturing the lives of college students. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 80% of college students experience this type of debilitating stress daily.
Through various research, studies have suggested that the development of anxiety disorders are correlated with another common, college based health concern- weight gain.
A recent study found that consuming a high fat diet can contribute to specific changes in the brain leading to the development of anxiety, while other research has shown evidence linking gut health to the development of this disorder. Specifically, it is thought that your gut is connected to your Central Nervous System through the Enteric Nervous System. This pathway is known as the Gut to Brain Axis, a theory proposing that poor substances and bacteria within the gut can ultimately travel to the brain influencing anxiety, stress, and overall mood.
Though, many factors contribute to the development of anxiety, poor diet and nutrition are two influences that are commonly overlooked.
College students can follow the nutritional tips below to help reduce the risk of weight gain, as well as helping to reduce anxiety symptoms.
- Eat Whole Grains— Complex carbohydrates have been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, inducing a calming effect. Other great sources of complex carbs include green vegetables, black beans, and oatmeal.
- Take a Daily Multivitamin— Healthy levels of magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins have all been seen to help reduce anxiety.
- Try Green Tea Instead of Coffee— Because coffee can be seen to sometimes increase anxiety symptoms, green tea can be a great alternative. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that helps keep your focus, curbs increased blood pressure and heart rate, and in some studies, was seen to reduce anxiety.
- Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants— Apples, berries, nuts, beans, spinach, broccoli. Antioxidants have been seen to reduce anxiety symptoms and are healthy food options for those managing weight.
- Add in Probiotics— Yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut are a few examples, but you can find various amounts of probiotic enriched food products in your local grocery store. Probiotics are healthy, living bacteria that help regulate gut health which, as explained by the Gut to Brain Axis theory, is thought to help lower anxiety.
Lastly, and most importantly:
- Strive for a Well Balanced Diet— In a college environment with limited time and healthy food options, health goals can be difficult to achieve. Regardless, students should strive to eat a well balanced diet. The benefits of merely attempting this on a daily basis will not only help reduce anxiety and weight gain issues, but will lead to an overall better quality of life.
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- Naidoo, Uma. Nutritional Strategies to Ease Anxiety. Harvard Health Publications, 13 April 2016, http://www.health.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441. Accessed 20 Sept. 2016.
- Facts: Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ADAA, http://www.adaa.org/finding-help/helping-others/college-students/facts. Accessed 20 Sept. 2016.