Estimated reading time: 28 minute(s)
Why do I always feel so anxious?
What is the cause of your anxiety and mood swings?
Are you someone for whom constant mood swings and anxiety symptoms have become daily life?
But are you beginning to notice your sudden mood swings and feelings of anxiety impact the quality of your work, family life and relationships?
Have you been trying everything you can to improve your severe mood swings and anxiety with over the counter medications, supplements or herbal remedies but can’t work out why you are not improving your bad mood.
Perhaps feel your anxiety in certain situations is causing your mood shifts to worsen?
Let me share that the root cause of your mood swings and anxiety is the poor gut microbiome. The quality of your gut bacteria impacts the ability to convert the food you eat into the essential dopamine and serotonin hormones you need to stop the panic attacks and feeling sad.
In our day to day life, it can be very easy to attribute many symptoms such as mood swings and extreme sadness to a host of common factors such as overall stress, sleep problems, mental health conditions, hormonal fluctuations and the everyday pressures of work or home life.
And whilst it’s true that these things can hold an influence over how we feel within ourselves, the frequency and severity of anxiety and mood may in fact be a clue or symptoms of poor metabolic health.
If you have been managing mood swings and anxiety for more than two years this indicates an underlying imbalance within our main metabolic pathways.
When it comes to the causes of extreme mood swings and anxiety symptoms, most articles you read will discuss your mental health condition as borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder, and your food choices and stress in relation to your mood shifts.
They’ll focus on how eating a healthy balanced diet can lead to fewer bouts of anxiety and other mental health conditions.
More often, you have a low mood and increase anxiety levels due to the food you have eaten creating negative feelings and hormonal changes.
What is the impact of low energy and fatigue?
With that in mind, if you have been struggling with severe low mood and extreme anxiety and have been managing various other mental health disorders over two or more years with the use of over-the-counter, or prescribed medication, then your metabolic pathways are likely struggling to balance the energy and absorb the nutrients from the food you eat and dispose of toxins properly.
We both know if you are reading this that eating healthily when you have a bout of anxiety and feeling low is the last thing you want to do.
However more often the reason you have a low mood and increase anxiety levels is due to the food you have recently eaten – but that was last week not today!
I’m Jen Adams, a functional personal nutritional therapist and my purpose is to teach those who want to learn how to improve their metabolic health to improve mental illness and reduce bouts of extreme irritability.
I want people to better understand how food and lifestyle choices affect changes in mood.
In this series of articles about the symptoms of poor metabolic health, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the importance to how you feel and what you can see when you look in the mirror as contributory factors to your metabolic health.
Identifying your everyday symptoms as clues to various underlying systemic imbalances will help you to enhance your future metabolic health and prevent the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune diseases, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
If you only treat these symptoms with medicine alone for more than two years, without any nutritional lifestyle intervention, your metabolic pathways will begin to fail, and your symptoms may develop into a systemic imbalance in your metabolic health.
What is the cause of my mood swings and anxiety?
When looking at the root causes of low mood and anxiety your functional metabolic health is incredibly important as this relates to the three essential metabolic pathways: Delivery of energy to balance hormones, liver function to metabolise energy and absorption of essential nutrients in the gut to create hormones.
The main reason for low mood and anxiety is down to the food you have eaten not being able to convert into the serotonin and dopamine hormones
Poor absorption of essential nutrients in the gut, due to gut dysbiosis, can lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids – all of which are essential cofactors in the production of serotonin and dopamine hormone balance.
Serotonin regulates mood, and creates feelings of joy, concentration, and calmness, whereas dopamine stimulates feelings of movement, motivation, drive, and productivity.
Although serotonin and dopamine work independently and differ in function, the neurotransmitters interact with each other in some way. This interaction is what helps to balance anxiety and mood swings.
Where does Serotonin come from?
Serotonin comes from the amino acid tryptophan which is converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase.
5-HTP needs to then be converted to serotonin by the enzyme aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase via your metabolic pathways. For this to happen your gut pH levels, B6 and magnesium levels need to be optimal as these are essential cofactors in this process.
If you have low stomach acid, poor gut motility or dysbiosis then this can lead to malabsorption of nutrients required which will impact the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin and a person’s mood.
Where does dopamine come from?
Dopamine is not just made in our brains when we experience or smell some pleasurable, but also converted from amino acids in your digestive system.
Dopamine is made from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine.
Phenylalanine is converted to tyrosine by the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase, which then needs to be converted to dopamine by the enzyme l-amino acid decarboxylase via your metabolic pathways.
L-tyrosine is converted to L-DOPA by the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase.
L-DOPA is then further converted to dopamine by the enzyme dopa decarboxylase.
These conversions are dependent on optimal stomach acid levels and gut health to ensure absorption of the amino acids from your food to be converted into dopamine to maintain emotional health.
Therefore both of these happy hormones are influenced by your gut microbiome to convert the amino acids into these neurotransmitters.
Having a healthy and diverse microbiome is essential for the absorption of these amino acids and to maintain optimal levels of serotonin and dopamine.
Unfortunately, in our modern world with increased stress, processed foods, environmental toxins, and medications all lead to an imbalance in our gut microbiome which can result in poor absorption of nutrients, malabsorption and dysbiosis.
What are the consequences of an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine?
As we have seen, serotonin and dopamine are both essential neurotransmitters that interact with each other to maintain a chemical balance in the body.
An imbalance of these two neurotransmitters can lead to a number of different mental health concerns, such as:
If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional to investigate the underlying cause and any other medical conditions.
In many cases, an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine can be resolved by focusing on your metabolic health rather than reacting to the symptoms with food that will only give you a quick fix of the dopamine and cause an imbalance in your blood sugars.
By either not eating enough of the right foods or consuming ultra-processed foods in excess, you will create a gut dysbiosis and become deficient in essential nutrients to create the essential happy hormones.
In summary, if you are unsure whether your low mood causes anxiety or bouts of anxiety stimulate your mood swings the one thing that is certain is that your gut health is at the centre of both of these issues.
Your gut flora influences the absorption and conversion of the essential amino acids to the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These two hormones work together to keep you calm, positive and movement throughout the day.
Mental health issues go further than your food choices, but these two hormones are contributory factors to your motivation and willpower to make healthy food choices which will help to create a healthy and diverse microbiome.
Therefore, when you’re looking into the causes of mood swings and anxiety, it’s important to consider your body’s ability to absorb the energy and nutrients from the food you choose to eat rather than looking for an over the counter medication.
When this metabolic process is unable to get sufficient raw ingredients to create serotonin and dopamine, this is often the cause of mood swings and anxiety.
In conclusion, the best way to reduce mood swings and anxiety is to focus on balancing your blood sugars, cleansing your liver and improving your gut microbiome.
This will enable you to help regulate your insulin sensitivity, deliver energy to your cells, detoxify toxins that disrupt your metabolism and create beneficial bacteria to reduce inflammation, improving your overall metabolic health.
Your mood swings are related to what you ate yesterday NOT what you want today. Breaking the vicious cycle is easy to do by changing what you eat next, reducing the bouts of anxiety.
What’s next? What is your metabolic health age – use the online Metabolic Age Calculator and answer a few simple health and lifestyle questions. It takes a few minutes, but it could help you change your mood forever.
If your Metabolic Health Age is equivalent to or lower than your actual age, then that is great news! This means your blood sugar levels, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference are potentially all within an ideal range.
However if your Metabolic Health Age is more than 10 years of your actual age, and you are struggling with anxiety and low mood you could be prone to some or all of these conditions as these are all markers that directly relate to your risk of insulin resistance, fatty liver, dysbiosis, high cholesterol and blood pressure.
This article is part of my WHY series to help you to identify the symptoms of poor metabolic health. Do you often ask yourself any of these…