Did you ever have a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do you feel nauseous in some situations, or have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? Well, we commonly use these expressions. Our gut is sensitive to emotion. Feelings of anger, anxiety or sadness trigger various symptoms in the gut.
But have you ever thought why does this happen?
To understand this, you need first to know the gut-brain connection; it links stomach problems of anxiety and vice versa. The brain directly affects the gut, which includes your stomach and intestines. For example, the very thought of eating releases the stomach’s juices before food reaches there.
This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine signals the brain, just as a troubled brain can signal the gut. Hence, your stomach or intestinal distress can cause anxiety, stress, or depression.
You must have experienced stomach upset for no obvious reasons. This happens because stomach problems are one of the most common signs of stress and anxiety, explaining the gut-brain connection. This connection affects your mood, how you think, and the digestion process.
Stress-Related Gut Symptoms
When you get nervous or anxious, your body releases hormones and chemicals that enter the digestive system. This affects the microbiome (collection of microorganisms) in your gut. The gut microbiome plays a major role in the digestion process while decreasing antibody production. Imbalance in the gut microbiome causes several stomach problems like:
- Stomach upset and diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite or unusual hunger
How can I improve my gut and mental health?
If you’re looking to improve your gut & mental health, you should eat certain foods and cultivate some eating habits beneficial for both like:
- For effective digestion, after every meal, be relaxed as immediately after eating gut produces the gastric juices needed to absorb nutrients from the food that support a healthy body and brain.
- Mind how and what you eat. Eat healthy food and avoid junk food. For example, have fruits or granola bars to snack on instead of sugary candies. Also, take time to savour the food and enjoy every bite fully.
- Exercise. Engage in some workout every day like outdoor sports or yoga. This helps you reduce stress and improve your physical and emotional well-being.
- Drink plenty of water to boost the digestive process.
- Seek help. Reach out to a therapist who specializes in anxiety issues & can help you manage stress.
- Fibre. Eating fiber improves memory and overall mood. It also decreases inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut and overall body. Foods high in fiber include beans and legumes, oats, nuts, dark chocolate, fruits, and vegetables.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates reduces inflammation and regulate gut microbiome. Foods rich in vitamin D include egg yolks, tuna, salmon, orange juice, and fortified milk.
- Protein. Proteins contain nitrogen, limiting the number of bad bacteria in the gut microbiome and maintaining its balance. Eating protein also decreases depression by producing serotonin (happy hormone) which improves your mood. Eggs, milk, yogurt, lean beef, turkey, chicken, fish, broccoli, oats, and nuts are some of the great protein sources.
- Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol, increase memory and cognitive function, and reduce sugar cravings. Rich sources of omega-3s are walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
- Eat probiotics and prebiotic-rich foods. Adding probiotics and prebiotic-rich foods to your diet can also help you take care of your gut and positively affect mental health. Probiotics & probiotics are naturally found in foods like kimchi, fermented yogurt, sauerkraut, asparagus, onions, garlic etc. you can also take them in supplement form available in the market.
If you would like to have a healthy gut and improve your mental well-being, consider the suggestions mentioned above in your diet and routine.
Gut health is essential for many reasons, including your mental health. Looking after your gut health will help you manage anxiety symptoms and ensure overall mental well-being. If Gut health is essential for many reasons, including your mental health. Looking after your gut health will help you manage anxiety symptoms and ensure overall mental well-being. If you’re working toward a healthy gut or improving your mental well-being, consider the suggestions mentioned above in your diet and routine.