I had such high stress and anxiety levels that I physically broke my body.
Well, not in two, but it had to be taken to the shop for repairs quite a few times.
See, when I discovered I had anxiety, I got a fancy new label, prescription medication, a sweet therapist, and yet – I was still struggling.
I was frustrated that despite all these measures, I still felt like I had slapped a band-aid over the situation.
I was not getting to the root of the problem.
That was until my digestive system shut down.
I bloated to the level of appearing nine months pregnant (seriously, people were congratulating me and asking the gender – it was a whole scene that took place on a cot in a hospital hallway).
But I’m so happy that happened because if not, I would not be able to sit here typing this solution to you, knowing how well it works.
Oh yeah, and I kicked anxiety to the curb. She had to go.
(Have you ever seen that scene in The Blindside where Michael Oher defensively pushes the other team’s player off the field and over the stadium fence?)
Yeah, that was me with my anxiety. And it can be you with yours, too.
I’m going to tell you exactly how to improve your anxiety while being able to feel energized and happier, while living your healthiest life.
Let me tell you – it sure feels good to relieve yourself from that unbearable weight.
You deserve that relief, too. You really do.
So here’s the secret – your mind shares a direct connection with your gut, the region containing your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.
That’s why when little kids experience anxiety, doctors often warn parents that their child may say, “My stomach hurts” as opposed to “I have anxiety.”
Same with having a “gut-wrenching” experience, feeling “butterflies” in your stomach, and being nauseous when you’re uneasy.
If you’ve ever felt:
Or any realm of drastic emotion, you have probably been tempted to “listen to your gut.”
This saying is so incredibly true, and it’s time we all begin listening to ours (because the pay outs are too great to not).
So here it is – restoring your gut health is crucial to managing and healing your anxiety. It’s also so much easier (and more rewarding) than you’d believe.
Hang with me, I promise I will make this easy, peezy lemon – detoxing squeezy.
What is Gut Health and Why Does It Matter?
To be frank, your gut health matters because YOU matter.
And our gut – that fancy term to describe the part of your digestive tract consisting of your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine – regulates SO many of our body’s functions.
For a quick snapshot, here’s a list of everything your gut regulates in the body:
- Brain Clarity and Mental Health
- Healthy Digestion
- Weight management (and weight loss)
- Skin Health
- Nutrient Absorption
- Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels
- Hunger and Appetite
- Bloating and Inflammation
- Chronic Illness
So, you can see how this one simple thing is by far THE one thing you want on your side.
And by restoring your digestive health, your body begins to reap incredible benefits from each of the bulleted categories above – including a healthy mental state.
Win – Win (x a million).
How Do Gut Health and Anxiety Relate?
Gut health and anxiety share a direct correlation.
The gut is often referred to as the “second brain” because of how much control it has over the rest of our body, including our mental health.
So it’s not shocking that the brain and gut oftentimes directly communicate.
Here’s a further breakdown…
All About The Good Guys
The brain regulates the health and development of beneficial strains of gut bacteria.
Oh yes, let me touch on that for one moment.
See, your gut is comprised of bacteria – but don’t grab the Lysol wipes quite yet.
It’s truly a battle of good versus evil here – and we NEED beneficial strains of healthy gut bacteria to regulate several bodily processes, specifically our body’s hormones (for mental health).
The good and the bad bacteria crave their own company and compete for control over the digestive tract.
(If you’ve ever heard of taking a probiotic – that’s exactly what these supplements comprise – healthy strains of the “good guys.”)
I’ll tell you a bit later exactly how to establish good gut bacteria and restore digestive health, but for now, just know that our brain plays a roll in efficiently developing these beneficial bacterial strains.
And opposingly – when we stress (experience anxiety, panic attacks, etc.), our brain negatively influences the growth of this healthy gut bacteria.
AHH! Now I’m stressing about stressing!
*cue deep breath*
I promise it’s a lot easier than you’d think.
The Gut Brain Mutual Relationship
Your gut health can either be the cause or the product of experiencing anxiety, stress, or depression.
This is due to how closely the brain and gastrointestinal (GI) system are intertwined.
- The brain influences the digestive system when it comes to motility, secretion, nutrient delivery, and overall microbial balance.
- The gut influences the brain when it comes to properly sending neurotransmitters, regulating stress and anxiety (through hormones), and controlling moods and behaviors.
▢ Just the thought of eating can release stomach juices even before consuming any food
▢ You may feel physically nauseous or uneasy when you’re stressed or nervous
▢ You can be an emotional eater or an emotional (non) eater depending on how you react to stress
▢ Stress and anxiety can influence the efficiency of the movements of the digestive organs (IE- your food gets physically pushed through the digestive tract. These contractions can change due to psychological stress)
And that’s just a few quick, simple examples. These processes are a lot more elaborate, but the concept remains simple.
How to Restore Gut Health to Manage and Reduce Anxiety
Have you ever been told “just don’t worry about it”?
I had an ex that used to quote Bob Marley’s “don’t worry, be happy” as if it were JUST that simple.
(You can see why he became an ex very quickly)
So what I focus on is controlling the controllable.
→ If taking medication helps you – that’s awesome!
→ If speaking to a therapist helps you – that’s awesome!
→ If meditating helps you – that’s awesome!
→ If exercise helps you – that’s awesome!
→ If sleep and rest helps you – that’s awesome!
See, there’s not a one size fits all for healing anxiety, but there is ONE simple thing that everyone can do that is proven to drastically skyrocket those serotonin levels, leaving you both healthier and happier.
This, as you know by now, is by restoring your gut health (that has been damaged due to the anxiety – but that’s okay because improving your digestive health is a lot simpler than you’d believe!)
7 Ways to Restore Gut Health
and Improve Anxiety
1. Focus on Eating Healthy, Wholesome Foods
Foods can either hurt or heal our digestive tract. And it’s up to us and what we decide to eat for how our bodies will feel.
So what I emphasize is filling your diets with anti-inflammatory foods that are filled with the beneficial strains of healthy gut bacteria.
Unhealthy, processed foods contain the bad gut bacteria that we want to avoid and cleanse our bodies from harboring any longer.
The first step to doing this is to focus on eating a healthier diet made from lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Food really does influence your mood, and again, it’s all through those beneficial strains of bacteria.
Avoid foods that have been processed, hybridized, or manufactured.
Instead, focus on eating real food made from fresh ingredients to create simple meals and healthy lifestyles.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water is incredibly important since keeps your body hydrated, energized, and detoxed.
A detox is nothing more than a “natural flush” but it essentially “flushes” the waste and toxins from your system – keeping you feeling fresh and shooting your energy levels through the roof.
This detox will help your body to rid itself of the unhealthy bacteria, making way for the good bacterial strains to thrive.
3. Maximize Nutrient Absorption
The primary job of the small intestine is to absorb nutrients from our foods; however, when our gut is unhealthy, we are unable to properly do this.
So that sluggish, struggling for energy feeling that you get with anxiety? This is the leading reason why you experience it.
This means that even though you could be eating healthy foods, your body is not able to uptake the nutrients, and therefore, your energy levels will remain low.
So what’s a great life hack is to incorporate superfood powders into your daily routine.
The key is in the powder.
These powders are composed of foods that are rich in anti-oxidants and countless health benefits, but the most important thing is this –
since they’re a powder, they absorb directly into your blood stream and do not even have to wait to be processed through the digestive tract.
If you’re interested, I personally love and adore Your Super.
I’ve found it’s the most bang for my buck, and trust me, I’m never one to throw money at supplements. I did that for too many years trying to find solutions that ACTUALLY work.
But Your Super is the easiest way for me to maximize my energy levels, and it’s no secret how much I love their products.
To get 15% off your first order, use the key “HAPPYNESSISKEY” at checkout.
4. Choose the Right Probiotic for You
Selecting a probiotic can be tricky because you never want to waste your money or your time.
But probiotics can be a great way to support your digestive health since they are beneficial strains of healthy bacteria that are able to get into your gut and work their magic.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a probiotic:
▢ You want LIVE strains of bacteria (many probiotics have “dead” strains, which when added to your digestive system do absolutely nothing. You need live strains that can continue to flourish your digestive tract with incredible benefits and more beneficial bacteria)
▢ Expect to pay anywhere from $25-$60/month for a good probiotic
▢ Read the reviews – it can be really helpful in deciding if the probiotic is right for you.
▢ Probiotics are measured in CFUs (colony forming units)
▢ The probiotic should have at least 10 Billion CFUs – less strains will simply not be as potent and beneficial (again, you want LIVE strains)
▢ Become familiar with the nutrition label – it tells you everything you need!
5. Reduce Stress
This one was almost laughable to me for years – up until the time when I realized how much reducing my stress helped both my mind and body.
You know you. What really relaxes you?
Don’t contort yourself into a pretzel if it doesn’t bring you Zen. Or do if it does.
I know that I relieve my bloating and digestive distress with this short ten minute free Youtube video: Yoga with Sarah Beth
Walking, meditating, spending less time on social media, enjoying time with loved ones… all great ideas!
So think about it… what works for you?
6. Get Enough Rest
When we sleep, our body restores itself.
Therefore, taking the time to relax our mind and body before bed helps us to achieve a deeper, more restful sleep.
I know I’ve been bad in the past about being on my phone too much before bed, and even the night-time mode keeps my brain awake as I’m scrolling through social media feeds and taking in that much content.
So, what I try to do is to make a habit of no phones in bed.
Sure, it can be hard.
But I sleep so much better and wake up feeling more refreshed – because that is what sleep is designed for when it comes to our bodies.
7. Perform Gentle Exercises
See, most people think that pushing the body to it’s greatest limit creates the most effective workout.
But during this time, you want to be gentle and forgiving towards your body.
This means doing simple exercises like yoga, pilates, or walking. You don’t have to push your body to the max when you are healing yourself.
So remember patience and forgiveness in the meantime.
You deserve it – you really do!
Take with You When You Go…
Your body communicates to you and it’s up to us to recognize these signs and signals. If we treat the symptom, it will likely return.
But if you treat the problem – you fix the issue.
This is the great thing about your gut health. I felt that discovering this central command center for the body was like discovering one of life’s greatest hacks.
By simply restoring ONE aspect of your body, you THRIVE in so many various fashions.