Do you suffer from anxiety?
The remedy might be residing in your belly…
There are about 100 trillion bacteria cells in your gut. Yeah, that’s a lot. This microbiome is critical for the immune system (over 80% of the immune system is located in the gut), helps with digestion and plays a vital role in the overall health of the body.
One of the more surprising links is the relationship between the microbiome and brain function. Recent studies have shown that there’s a definite link between gut health and anxiety.
Mental health and mood are negatively affected by a lack of “good” gut bacteria. So optimizing your gut flora will help reduce or even eliminate anxiety.
Holistic health practitioners have long said that gut health is intimately tied to mental health. Before the science backed it up, it was dismissed as quackery. But now the science strongly supports those assertions.
Dr. Joseph Mercola explains the connection well:
“To put this into more concrete terms, you’ve probably experienced the visceral sensation of butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, or had an upset stomach when you were very angry or stressed. The flip side is also true, in that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, and autism.”
And here’s what Scientific American has to say:
“The gut-brain axis seems to be bidirectional—the brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help to shape the gut’s microbial makeup, and gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain. These interactions could occur in various ways: microbial compounds communicate via the vagus nerve, which connects the brain and the digestive tract, and microbially derived metabolites interact with the immune system, which maintains its own communication with the brain.”
Ever have a “gut feeling”? That’s a testament to this phenomenon.
What Causes Poor Gut Health?
Processed foods and sugars destroy good bacteria and enable the proliferation of bad bacteria. Because western diets are dominated by this kind of food (if you can call it that), poor gut health is a widespread issue (and the cascading health problems that result from poor gut health).
On the other hand, natural, living foods provide a conducive environment for “good” bacteria. Fruits and vegetables contain prebiotics, which act as nourishment for healthy gut bacteria. And fermented foods contain probiotics, the actual healthy bacteria (see the list below).
How to Optimize Your Gut Health
1. Only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary – They kill all bacteria, good and bad. (Break the word down: anti-biotic = anti-life) It’s like dropping a nuclear bomb, it destroys everything, leaving your immune system completely crippled. So only use antibiotics when you really, really need to.
2. Reduce consumption of processed junk foods and sugar – This stuff feeds “bad bacteria” and kills the “good bacteria.” Put the pop-tart down, it’s not worth it.
3. JERF (Just Eat Real Food) – Vegetables, fruit, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, nuts, seeds, berries and some raw cheese should be your dietary staples. As described above, real food supports a healthy gut. Like Jack LaLanne once said, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”
4. Get your probiotics – Either eat probiotic-rich foods or take a probiotic supplement. This is your gut health insurance.
Top Probiotic, Fermented Foods
- Sauerkraut (raw is best)
- Yogurt (avoid the kinds with added sugar)
Ultimately, anxiety is a fear-based mental projection into the future. So anything that cultivates presence or supports the mind in letting go of fear will annihilate anxiety. And optimizing gut health is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal.
For this kind of information and much, much more, sign up for my online course Annihilate Anxiety, which is now open for registration!
Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.
– Stevie P