Have you ever had a headache, only to find out the cause is your tight neck muscles that may be caused by stress? Or have you ever had a sore knee to find out it is caused by a tight quadricep muscle? Quite often the symptoms or pain you feel are caused by a seemingly unrelated or unknown problem.
This is also the case with the gut-brain connection, otherwise known as the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain connection links your stomach problems to anxiety and vice versa. This connection has gathered a lot of attention in the past few years because understanding this is the gateway to understanding and treating multiple physical and mental health disorders.
Many schools of thought initially believed that anxiety and stress caused stomach issues like: IBS, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. However, new research has found this can also be the other way round. People experiencing IBS and stomach problems are more likely to suffer from anxiety. So if we focus on supporting our digestive system and microbiome we may in turn improve our mental wellbeing.
If you've ever "gone with your gut" to make a decision or felt "butterflies in your stomach" when nervous, you're likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this "brain in your gut" is revolutionising medicines's understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
This new understanding has opened the door for new treatment opportunities. It is possible to treat anxiety without popping a pill. But by simply focusing on improving your gut health.
4 Ways to Improve Your Gut-Brain Connection:
- Eat plenty of whole grains, nuts, load up on veggies, beans and fresh fruits. A vegetarian diet high in fruit and vegetables improves gut health due to the high levels of prebiotic fibre.
- Avoid sugary foods
- Eat fermented foods with beneficial bacteria
- Eat foods high in polyphenols
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Supplement wisely