If you struggle with anxiety or other mental health issues, your gastrointestinal health could be at the root of your issues. Our gut is so important to our wellbeing that it is often referred to as our “second brain.” Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are often accompanied by stomach problems and digestive issues. This occurs because the gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive to emotion and closely connected to the neural system through the “gut-brain axis.” Have you ever felt “butterflies in your stomach” or had a “gut-wrenching experience”? These expressions originated for a reason, and there is science to back it up. It is surprising to hear that our gut is linked so closely to our brains, but they are intimately connected, which is why putting the right foods in our bodies can have a tremendous impact on improving gut issues.
The foods I recommend for optimal gut health are probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods that help grow and cultivate a balance of good bacteria in the microbiome. Probiotics are not naturally found in the human microbiome; instead, they are cultured in labs and injected into foods and supplements. After being ingested, probiotic bacteria help give our gut diversity and promote healthy digestion. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics do not contain living organisms and are instead a food source for gut bacteria, which are then converted into other healthful substances. Ingesting any of these foods can help restore and maintain the balance of good bacteria in our gut. “Researchers speculate that any disruption to the normal, healthful balance of bacteria in the microbiome can cause the immune system to overreact and contribute to inflammation of the GI tract, in turn leading to the development of symptoms of disease that occur not only throughout your body, but also in your brain.” Many foods naturally contain probiotics and prebiotics, and I recommend you incorporate more of them into your diet. Feeling bloated and uncomfortable after your meals shouldn’t be the norm. Here are some foods that can help keep our GI tract running smoothly and in turn, keep our minds at peak performance.
- Turmeric & curcumin
Probiotic-rich food foods:
- Apple cider vinegar (but make sure to dilute with water or incorporate into a salad dressing it so it doesn’t degrade your tooth enamel)
- Ginger & low-sugar kombucha
- Greek yogurt
I have also been taking Bio Complete 3’s daily supplement, a premium mix of probiotics, prebiotics, and a revolutionary new compound called postbiotics. This formula has been shown to improve your digestion, boost your metabolism and reduce cravings. It is the ultimate gut-health pill and has definitely made a difference for me! I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their gut health.
Having anxiety can lead to painful gut issues, which in turn understandably creates more anxiety for a person. It is a vicious cycle in your body — the crux of the issue. Once gut discomfort is resolved through dietary changes, anxiety and other mental issues are mitigated, leading to a healthier and happier life. This is one of the most universal examples of the “mind-body connection” that we talk about in our work as nutritionists and wellness counselors.