The link between Anxiety and IBS is no secret. It’s probably the easiest way to understand the gut-brain connection.
During a 21 day Elimination Diet, we ask clients to look at what areas of their lives other than food, require eliminating. Stress remains at the top of the list, as it has a direct impact on gut health.
90% of the body’s serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) is produced in the gut. Stress and anxiety lead to increased levels of stress hormone cortisol, diminishing nerve signals from the brain to the gut via the vagus nerve. These factors can upset the balance of good bacteria in the gut, thereby negatively impacting the production of serotonin. Low serotonin levels are a feature of reduced resistance to stress, depressed mood and anxiety.
Consider the areas of your life that cause you stress:
- Perhaps it’s your morning commute
- Perhaps it’s the work that you are doing
- Or the relationships, intimate as well as platonic, which may be negatively affecting you
- Is there anything that you can change to ease the pressure, and reduce the load?
MINDSET: PRACTICE GRATITUDE
One strategy that often reaps huge rewards, but requires minimal effort, is to develop a sense of gratitude.
While it’s easy to complain, it is just as easy to find 5 minutes to sit down, put pen to paper, and focus on the positive things that are happening around you, and to you, each day. This practice has been shown to improve mood via the formation of new neural pathways, programmed to seek out good. It makes a difference to overall stress, depression, and anxiety levels. It’s also an exercise in mindfulness, and training your brain to focus.
The knock-on effect is that it can help facilitate the healing of the gut by making you less likely to feel overwhelmed, thereby reducing your cortisol, and upping your serotonin. You’re also more likely to choose more healing foods, and less likely to reach for the usual suspects of cakes, candy, pastries, pasta or pizza.
THE MIND-BODY APPROACH
When you understand that the body’s systems work in concert together – brain impacting gut, gut impacting brain – you’re then in a position to take holistic action from a place of knowledge. This mind-body approach can powerfully impact your biochemistry, particularly when you focus on practices that restore the powerhouse of your body, your second brain.
All areas of your health – from your skin, to your mood, to your weight, to your energy, even your relationships – are bound to notice the benefits.