Are you one of the many people out there that are battling anxiety? It almost seems inevitable these days. It’s crazy because there can be so many reasons why you would have some sort of anxiety…our day-to-day is usually over scheduled, filled with technology, social media and just the normal tasks of keeping up with your family, work and kids. These demands in your day can most certainly create a stressful reaction, which in turn can stir up that big “A” word…ANXIETY!
But, that’s not all…
The health of your GUT plays a role in your mental health too! First, let’s learn a little more about your gut. The gut includes every organ involved in digesting food and processing it into waste. That means when we are talking about your “gut”, we are also talking about your stomach, esophagus, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder and your pancreas. That is literally almost every organ in your body!
Anxiety & Your Gut … The Science Behind it!
When you think of a healthy gut, you should think of a balanced amount of good and bad bacteria or simply a healthy microbiome. Microbiome is like an ecosystem within your body consisting of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Having a healthy gut is extremely important for many reasons. It affects the whole body – your immune system, your mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and possible cancer.
These days, your gut is being called the “second brain”.
Are you ready for this? We are about to go over some really cool information…
Enteric Nervous System
In the gut is your Enteric Nervous System (ENS). Your ENS has been known to control digestion, but it also plays an important role in your physical and mental well-being. It can work by itself or in conjunction with your brain. It’s what we all know to be our gut “thinking”. The ENS helps you sense environmental threats, and then influences your response. This ENS runs throughout the lining of your gut. It’s essentially your “brain” in the gut, because it can operate independently of the brain and spinal cord, and the central nervous system.
The Gut-Brain Axis
It’s through your vagus nerve—which is the longest nerve in the human body and goes from the brainstem to the lowest part of your intestines—that this amazing communication, superhighway of connectivity between your gut and brain exists. This is also known as the “gut-brain axis”. This is their bi-directional connection. Your gut talks to your brain and your brain talks to your gut. How cool is that!?!
The Actual Connection…
Deepak Chopra says it best,
“without realizing it, you are experiencing this connection during any of the following common experiences: Getting butterflies in your stomach when you feel nervous, overeating when you feel anxious, feeling dull and sluggish after taking an antibiotic, contracting stomach cramps before a competitive challenge, experiencing nausea or stomach upset from taking antidepressants. These are all evidence of the intimate connection between brain and gut that we ordinarily do not notice.”
So, how can you take power in your own hands to help create a healthier gut, better moods and less anxiety? My viewpoint to all things related to health is always a “whole” approach. You can’t just focus on eating clean, unprocessed foods. You also have to focus on your stress management, and alternative methods to healing your mind, body and spirit.
Here are some tips to manage your anxiety holistically:
- Eat a diet full of whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits, nuts/seeds and vegetables.
- Avoid foods that are fried, processed, and high in sugar – as well as sodas.
- Feed your microbiome with a good Soil-based Probiotic and Prebiotic foods (high fiber, raw vegetables and fermented foods).
- Create habits within your day to help reduce stress: breathwork, meditation, or a walk are all great.
- Make sure you are surrounded by positivity when you are listening to the radio, podcasts, and even what you choose to watch on tv or social media.
- Research is showing that cold therapies help as well by activating your rest-and-digest parasympathetic system. Try Cryotherapy or ice baths.
- Use Affirmations throughout the day that create a positive mindset as it relates to you, your body and your life’s journey. My favorite is: I am exactly where I need to be.
- Avoid Antibiotics unless necessary.
Mental Focus and Awareness is Key
There is so much to know about the power of your gut. Don’t let marketing out there fool you. Do your research. Knowledge is power!!! Some of the best things in life, when it comes to healing physically and mentally, are not “products”. Mental focus and awareness on your breath, meditating, ice baths, journaling and affirmations are all free! When you buy something as it relates to your health – remember that you vote with your dollar. Buy real food (local when possible) and invest in a good soil-based probiotic. These are great ways you can start taking the right steps to better health and less anxiety. The power is within you. And don’t forget…you are not alone on this journey.
In love and gratitude,