“Gut Feelings” About Anxiety

Happy Friday the 13th!

Friday the 13th has long been considered a day of bad luck in Western superstition. Keeping with that theme, I wanted to post about something that can be very scary to live with. Life with anxiety is no joke. Anxiety disorders are real illness based upon extreme fear. Over 21% of American adults between the ages of 18 and 64 will have diagnosable anxiety disorders in a given year (that is more than the number of people in the U.S. who are subscribed to Netflix!).

People diagnosed with anxiety describe this illness in many ways. Some report being so scared that they’re paralyzed with fear. Others claim that you can’t breath and your heart is beating out of your chest. Many describe overwhelming and exhausting worry. Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • racing thoughts
  • excessive worry
  • feeling of impending doom
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • palpitations
  • fatiuge
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • poor concentration

Anxiety is not a choice, and it is certainly not a sign of weakness. However, many adults avoid seeking treatment because they feel embarrassed and worry about disappointing others.

Over the past decade, scientists have uncovered a link between gut health and anxiety. There is a growing consensus in the scientific community that there is shared communication between the brain and the intestines. If you read some of my previous posts, you know that is called the “gut-brain axis.”

The gut and the brain share and receive messages through the bloodstream, but also via the enteric nervous system → this system is often referred to as “the second brain” because it sends and receives impulses, records experiences and even responds to emotions. It is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins that communicates with the esophagus, stomach, and intestines….ever heard of “gut feelings?”

When bad bacteria is colonized in the gut, it can cause significant disruption in your enteric nervous system. Some strains of bacteria disrupt your gut-brain communication, decreasing your ability to balance emotion. Other strains release pro-inflammatory factors that have been scientifically linked to social avoidance and stress. Just as your brain can mess up your gut…your gut can mess up your brain!

Scientists have also discovered that poor regulation of carbohydrate digestion is linked to several psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression and hyperactivity. What causes poor regulation of carbohydrate digestion → bad gut bacteria3458c5d06a716a09b9306a18fdc285d6

To summarize (sorry for the long post!)… a healthy microbiome is necessary for appropriate regulation between your brain and your gut. Changes to your gut bacteria can produce significant changes in stress response, decreasing the severity of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

If you’re suffering from anxiety, focus on what you can control and take action. You have control of you give your body! Make sure you are taking care of your gut and your mind ♥


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