When I was in the sixth grade, I could never sleep through the night.
We tried everything – melatonin, different mattress, new location of my bed, my mom rubbing my back, soft music – the whole dang deal.
This continued on and off, but was the first time I could track back that I had anxiety – something that would continue for quite some time.
So think about – when was the first time YOU realized your brain works in a certain and special way?
It wasn’t until much later that I learned that what I experience is anxiety AND how connected it all was to my gut issues.
I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, curbed the panic attacks, and greatly reduced my anxiety by just changing up how I handle my gut.
Want to know how? And how the heck everything is intertwined?
Hang with me, I’ve got you!
How It Started vs How It's All Going
A little while ago, we learned that clinically depressed mice could greatly alter their brain activity and hormonal happiness (serotonin) by having certain strains of bacteria injected into them.
The change of gut bacteria led to the skyrocket in their mental health, but we had so many questions from there.
Flash forward a good chunk of years and there are now over twenty something studies that prove bacterial gut health directly influences the human psyche.
This transition is never immediate gratification, but rather an integration of over a course of 3-4 weeks from when the gut bacteria is altered.
So what we know…
- Our mental health is directly linked to our gut health.
What we are still learning…
- Which exact strains of bacteria do we want in our gut in order to experience the greatest improvement?
What is Gut Health + Why Do We Care?
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 Does the Gut and Brain Relate?
Gut health and mental health 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.
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.
Gut Microbes for the Win...
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.
▢ 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.
A Moody Gut: Worth Kicking to the Curb
Since the majority of our hormones are regulated by our gut, it’s no shock that if our gut is unhealthy, we will be unhappy.
I saw this personally. I used to be so exhausted, cranky, anxious, and that “jumpy” feeling that anything could bother me at any minute.
Then when I realized I had a gluten intolerance, everything changed for me because I then had to focus on what kinds of foods I was eating and the simple daily habits that would make a huge difference.
Serotonin is our “happiness” hormone – along with elements like dopamine. When our gut is working optimally, we are able work like a well oiled machine and crank these out for our body.
But if we don’t – our body works like a breaking down machine. A bit rusty. Kinks in the system. Overwhelmed.
Stress & Your Digestive System
Have you ever noticed that your poop changes based on your life and levels of stress?
You could experience constipation or diarrhea because you have a huge work meeting or upcoming event.
And this isn’t coincidental!
If you’re wondering if your poop is regular at all (it is after all the BEST tell tale of if your gut is healthy) be sure to check out “Is Your Poop Healthy Or Not: FIND OUT HERE!”
Our intestines work by making contractions that push our foods along down the digestive tract. These compulsions will change based on the external stressors – like stress!
The rate at which these contractions occur will change the result of your poop – and the overall health of your gut!
How Do You Improve Gut Health Quickly?
Let me tell ya – my gut was WRECKED by the time I got to it, and now – I am that well oiled machine.
So if I can do it, truly anyone can.
I personally developed a gluten intolerance many years before I recognized it. What happens when you have a gluten intolerance is that the gluten is identified as a foreign substance to the body, and it begins to eat away at the linings of the intestines (especially the small intestine that absorbs all the good nutrients!).
So what I did wasn’t anything radical or crazy – it was just RIGHT.
If you’re ready to full dive right into it, be sure to check out the 21 Day Gut Health Challenge to see if it’s right for you!
This program has now helped hundreds of women establish healthy guts quickly, sustainably, and cost effectively (I only recommend what I use myself – which is very little!).
3 Core Objectives to Fix Your Gut!
There are three main components to focus upon in order to help to restore the healthy gut flora in your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (the part considered your gut!).
1. An Anti Inflammatory Diet
This diet is barely a diet at all because of how many healthy substitutions there are to still be able to make your favorite meals!
I went ahead and made a complete and comprehensive list of Eat This – Not That if you want to check it out!
These ingredients ensure that your body heals from the inside out, and the foods work to nurture your body, not hurt it.
2. Maximize Nutrient Absorption
In order for everything out gut controls (energy, metabolism, skin health, bloating/inflammation, immunity, etc.) to work properly, we have to be able to absorb the nutrients that are found in our foods.
Problem is, this is the role of the small intestine – the core part of the gut. So if our gut is unhealthy, everything is off.
Good thing is, there’s a super easy fix and the secret’s out HERE for how I quickly healed my small intestine and saw results instantly.
Link for you: How I Fixed My Nutrient Absorption Issue Instantly!
3. Don't Waste Money - Use the Right Supplements
Supplements are a great way to supplement your diet with some key nutrition – but too many supplements I personally spent money on and got NO RESULTS.
There are only a few that your gut really needs in order to thrive and I’ve listed them out here for you if you want to check them out!
Don't Be Overwhelmed - You Can Do This
The good thing is that there is a SOLUTION.
Take restoring your gut health one step at a time.
When I began, there was VERY little research out there.
I experimented on myself A LOT. Does this food work? Does this supplement do anything?
And I made a promise to myself that if I ever figured it out, I would share the solution. Hence, this blog and the program 21 Day Gut Health Challenge.
If you’re looking for an all in one resource, it’s already been created for you!
Check it out if this sounds like YOU! And I promise you, it gets SO SO SO much better. You can do this. 🙂