“When thinking about life, remember this: No amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.”
Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you sick or queasy? Have you ever had that butterfly feeling in your stomach? These expressions are real because our guts (gastrointestinal tract GI) are sensitive to our emotions. Anger, anxiety, sadness and excitement are all feelings that can trigger symptoms in the gut.
The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled gut can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. The link is so strong that even doctors are prescribing anti-depressants for people suffering with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Therefore, a person’s digestive discomfort can be the cause or the reason for anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the GI system are closely linked.
“Women are twice as likely to develop anxiety and insomnia issues than men”. 
Recent findings have showed that microbiota (organisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in the gut) are important in normal healthy brain function. There is also a link between stress and microbiota, and how if changes happen to the microbiota then that will influence stress-related behaviours . Can you believe that?!
The diagram above shows how low inflammation in the body correlates to low anxiety in people. Opposite to this is how if your body is inflamed such as digestive problems, aches and pains, bad skin, low energy etc. then it’s highly likely your anxiety levels are high as well.
What could be adding to your anxiety?
- Hormonal change
- Cultural pressures: perfect body, big job title.
- Excessive amount of time spent online
- Digestion problems and food sensitivities
Whether you just worry or stress occasionally or spend most of you day worrying and obsessing over things (also known as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)), you can be sure that its effecting your gut health, and vice versa. I suffered throughout my twenties with severe anxiety and depression and looked at my lifestyle and nutrition to make improvements.
What can you do?
- Limit technology. Don’t have access to phone/laptops etc during meals or 2 hours before bed.
- Reduce your caffeine intake to 2 cups a day and not last midday. Caffeine adds more stress to the already overworked adrenals.
- Take up yoga. Yoga is very relaxing, allows space in the mind and concentrates on deep belly breathing which helps with anxiety. It is common for people who are stressed, worried or anxious to shallow/ chest breathe causing shortness of breath.
- Walk for 30mins per day. Especially if its outside, in nature and barefoot.
- Work with a coach. Having someone to motivate, listen to you fully and be accountable to will help you understand you own anxiety and worries. This in turn will help you put things in perspective and be able to manage and/ or prevent it.
- Practice meditation. Such a powerful exercise and it doesn’t have to be for a long period of time to make an impact. If you are new to meditation download a guided app, I find Insight Timer very useful and you can select a time that suits you, even if only 5 mins a day.
Are you experiencing stomach problems such as heartburn, abdominal cramps, gas, or loose stools related to stress or anxiety? If so, working with coach can help you come up with strategies to enable you to deal with the stressors in your life, which will then in turn ease your digestive discomforts. My programs not only look at nutrition and exercise when it comes to gut health, but lifestyle choices and mindset as these are such important factors.