Gut Bacteria Can Directly Affect Anxiety, Behavior and Emotional Health

Many medical experts around the world claim that the best and most effective way to treat anxiety is to balance different aspects of your life – body, mind and spirit. A recent study has discovered that cultivating good digestive health is a crucial part of this treatment. This medical study has discovered that the bacteria in your gut can directly affect your behavior and emotions. Well, this might be new for many people, but you should know that it’s a critical, and often overlooked factor in treating anxiety.

You should know that healing and restoring balance to one’s digestive tract can make a huge difference in symptoms – with the help of an integrative medical doctor. You should also know that your digestive tract can be damaged by chronic stress, medication use and exposure to foods that aren’t great for your body (to name a few). There are many different causes and risk factors, (besides poor digestive health) that can cause these symptoms: you’re in an unhealthy relationship, or suffer from low self-esteem, struggle with panic attacks, or worry needlessly about little things.

It doesn’t matter what’s the real cause for your anxiety, you should know that if you experience it can leave you feeling isolated, scared and mentally exhausted. This actually means that when it comes to treating emotional distress, utilizing multiple agents of change is the most beneficial way to experience relief. You can take this for example – when treating anxiety, it’s extremely beneficial not only to receive therapy, but also to change your diet, exercise, patterns of self-talk, methods of self-care and introduce relaxation techniques.

This is why you should work hard and try to balance your gut flora. You should know that this can be a very healing addition to the aforementioned therapies. Many medical experts around the world also agree that your gut bacteria affect your emotional health. The famous Dr. Michael Gershon first brought this groundbreaking science to the public with his lab studies with rodents. Dr. Michael was the first doctor that studied the connection because of his interest in serotonin; 90% of our serotonin is produced and manufactured in the gut! Dr. Michaels said that the Second Brain, which describes the role of the digestive tract in regulating emotional health and decision making.

Different researchers in other, more recent, study swapped the bacteria in anxious mice and fearless mice by changing diet, adding antibiotics or adding probiotics. The researchers have found that the timid mice actually started taking more risks and acting more gregarious and the opposite also happened: the fearless mice acted more timid. In another study published in Gastroenterology, researchers studied the effects of probiotics in humans. After 4 weeks of ingesting probiotics, they scanned the brains of each participant. They’ve also found subtle signs that the brain circuits involved in anxiety were less reactive.

And, here comes the million-dollar question – how do the brain and the gut communicate? First, you should know that the brain and the gut are in constant communication via the vagus nerve, a large nerve that connects the two. The concept of “gut feeling” and butterflies in your stomach is actually a real thing!

A recent study conducted by group of experts in Ireland, researchers found that when the vagus nerve was cut in mice, they no longer saw the brain respond based on changes to the rodent’s gut flora.  Scientists have also begun to study certain neurochemicals that have not been described before being produced by certain bacteria, thus suggesting that gut microbes can produce their own version of neurotransmitters. This is another way that gut microbes may communicate with the brain. This is really amazing, right?

These are the best and most effective ways to nourish your digestive tract:

  1. Start eating more and more whole foods.

You should eat more whole foods. And, make sure you limit processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. You should consume more fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and lean proteins. Note: start with small changes. Here are some few simple tips – choose a sweet potato instead of fries, eat half of your dessert rather than the whole plate, or order an open faced sandwich. Changes should feel do-able, not overwhelming and anxiety producing!

  1. Increase your body/food awareness.

You should be careful and always pay attention how you feel after eating. You should be careful and don’t ignore these early warning signs: fatigue, bloating, anxiety, gas, reflux or any other symptoms that you might be experiencing. Note: you will notice that this will allow you to start mapping patterns and become aware of what foods might be troublesome for you. But, if you continually eat foods that don’t react well to your body, it can damage your delicate digestive lining and balance of good bacteria.

  1. Eat foods rich in probiotics.

You should eat more foods that contain high amounts of probiotics. This can include yogurt, kefir, fermented foods and sauerkraut.

  1. Reduce Stress.

You should always try to reduce stress and avoid stressful situations, because stress can damage your very thin digestive lining. Practice relaxation techniques, meditate, use positive self-talk and engage in activities that bring joy. Managing stress will help you to heal from the inside out and also reduce anxiety symptoms. We really hope you find this article helpful and don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Thank You.