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How your gut health impacts your anxiety

11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Anxiety can be a powerful emotion that causes excessive worry, sometimes to the point where it interferes with our daily lives. While it's natural to feel anxious at times, frequent episodes can be concerning and require attention.

The symptoms of anxiety can manifest in various ways, affecting our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. You might feel nervous, tense, or restless, and have difficulty concentrating. Negative thoughts can become overwhelming. Anxiety can also manifest in the form of gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain and nausea.

But interestingly, the brain is not the only organ driving our emotions.

Recent research has revealed a bi-directional communication system between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. This means that signals can be sent not only from the brain to the gut but also from the gut to the brain.

Our gut bacteria play a crucial role in mood and behaviour regulation. The bacteria generate hundreds of neurochemicals, which the brain uses for learning, memory, and mood regulation. An imbalance in our gut microbiota can contribute to stress-related behaviours such as anxiety because of the direct relationship between our gut and the areas of our brain that control stress and emotional behaviour. As a result, maintaining a healthy gut is critical for our mental health.

If you're struggling with anxiety and looking to improve your gut health, these tips below might be helpful. 

First, it's important to approach food mindfully.

Eating mindfully means that you are using all of your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy the food choices you make. This helps to increase gratitude for food, which can improve the overall eating experience. Yes, unfortunately, that does mean we recommend you stop eating in front of the TV!

But don't worry; making some simple changes to your diet can go a long way. 

I recommend incorporating the following into your diet:

  • Fibre which can be found in beans, whole grains, nuts, and popcorn.
  • A variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Probiotics and prebiotics to help with nutrient absorption. 
  • Fatty acids, which are important for your brain and overall wellbeing, especially when it comes to managing stress.
  • Dark chocolate, which can actually improve cognitive function and mood. 

It's important to keep in mind that each of us is unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. If you're interested in delving deeper into your gut health and creating a personalised diet plan tailored to your individual needs, I invite you to book a session with me at Simply search for my name, Iliyana, and let's work together to optimise your gut and mental health.