Do you suffer from anxiety, GI discomfort, irritability? All of the above? These symptoms could all be related to your gut health. I’v mentioned briefly in prior posts how your brain and stomach are intimately connected. In fact, think of your stomach as virtually your second brain. Your troubled gut can send signals to your mind and vice versa. The relationship between the gut and the brain is complex. I am going to explain without getting too deep into the nitty-gritty details.
How does your brain affect your gut?
A troubled gut begins from external stress. Do you remember a time when you were exceptionally nervous about an event, and your stomach was upset in the morning? External stress can cause a change in your stomach acid. Prolonged anxiety, over some time, can lead to bloating, excessive pain, irregularity, constipation, and so on. An unbalanced microbiome can turn into something commonly known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
How does your gut affect your brain?
An upset gut clashes with your mood because 95% of our serotonin is in our stomachs. Our gut could be unbalanced before any external stress, for various reasons, which can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression.
How do you fix your gut?
If you are reading this thinking that it sounds like something you have been suffering through, know that you are not alone. Many people struggle with gut issues, including myself. My gut issues are why I have a passion for overall gut health! Gut issues are their own beast, and treating gut issues is unique to you (aka what works for someone else might not work for you).
So, a few ways to improve your gut health on your own are:
- Diet. Assess your diet and make sure it is well balanced. Cut out processed foods and excess sugar/sweeteners because they can cause your gut microbiome to be unbalanced. Fill your diet with fiber-rich foods, fermented foods, omega-3 fats, and polyphenol-rich foods (i.e., olive oil).
- Reduce stress. Some simple but effective ways to reduce stress are meditation, exercise, yoga, stretching, reading, and journaling.
- Supplements. A probiotic or prebiotic could be an excellent fit for you, depending on your stomach condition. I would strongly suggest researching the supplements you try beforehand or seek advice from a professional.
- Sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is very important for gut health. Irregular sleep patterns can cause an unbalanced gut.
- Food journal. Keeping a food journal can be great, especially if you are experiencing stomach pain and bloating regularly. You could be potentially eating something that irritates your stomach without realizing it because it is apart of your regular diet. A food journal helps keep track of what you are eating and can shed light on something you might be overlooking.
Improving your gut health can be a guessing game. It can be frustrating at times, but always remember no one’s health journey is linear. It will get better!
“Healthy begins from the inside.” XO