How to Manage Anxiety through Gut Health

It’s normal to become anxious when there is something you fear or when you face an unfamiliar situation (like this pandemic!). Your fight-or-flight response gets activated and so your breathing quickens and gets more shallow, your heart rate increases…these 2 reactions alone can lead to feeling anxious!

While this anxiety response is normal every now and then, anxiety disorder is a whole other story. It happens when a person stays in fight-flight and fails to go back to the rest-and-digest response. When this happens, the feeling of anxiety interferes with a person’s daily life so much that it feels very challenging to maintain even basic well-being and productivity.


 
There are a lot of things that can trigger anxiety: A traumatic experience, health problems, work or personal relationships, financial stress, or school challenges are common triggers. When we experience anxiety, inside your brain, a chemical imbalance occurs. The hormones that are responsible for mood, energy, and how we handle stress (neurotransmitters) can get thrown out of balance.
 
Cutting-edge research tells us another culprit plays a role in anxiety: Your gut microbiome.
 
Yes, your gut and nervous system are interconnected.
 
Have you experienced “butterflies in your stomach” during a presentation?
 
A “gut-wrenching” experience?
 
A “knot in your stomach” when facing an uncomfortable situation?
 
Well, your gut and brain are in constant communication.
 
In fact, the gut has this mesh-like network of neurons along its walls, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). It receives and sends signals from and to both the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). It sends signals to the brain via the vagus nerve.
 
So how does your gut microbiome cause anxiety?
 
Consider your ENS as your second brain.  It has profound influence on your emotions. How? It produces and moves serotonin, the neurotransmitter that maintains mood balance.
 
95% of serotonin is produced by the gut microbiome.
 
The health of your gut microbiome definitely influences your mood, how you deal with stress, and in the development of anxiety disorder.
 
So how do you keep your gut microbiome healthy so that it becomes a source of happiness and ease?

Boosting Your Gut Health

The goal is to increase the good microorganisms in your gut while decreasing the bad ones. Your diet plays a key role in helping you achieve this.
 
Your diet is not only a source of nutrition for your body: It also feeds the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes in your gut.
 
Here are some changes you can apply to your diet to improve your gut health:

  1. Eat varied foods with plenty of good quality protein and plants at each meal.
  2. Reduce or totally get rid of highly processed food.
  3. Eat fiber (because your gut bugs eat it too!).

Please note that an abrupt switch to fiber-rich foods can make your stomach bloated, so just take it easy by doing it gradually and drink more water.
 
Since antibiotics are hard on your gut microbiome, make sure to compensate by eating more plant-based food if you are on antibiotic therapy.
 
Taking probiotics is also important for gut health, especially ones containing Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus. Studies show that this particular strain of probiotic greatly lessened anxiety on test subjects. This bacteria is naturally occurring in Parmesan cheese.
 
Your gut is at the root of your health. Today we focused on the gut/mental health connection and I hope what I shared here is helpful for you.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca

Do You Know the Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid?

For many of you, the answer is no.
 
Stomach acid or gastric juice is vital in digestion, particularly in breaking down proteins. An average adult produces 1.5 liters of stomach acid every day.
 
But, as we grow older, our body tends to produce less stomach acid.
 
Here are the results of several studies correlating age to decreased production of stomach acid:

  • More than 30% of men and women over 60 secrete little to no stomach acid.
  • 40% of postmenopausal women were not secreting stomach acid at all.
  • Close to 40% of women over 80 were not producing hydrochloric acid during digestion.
  • Researchers in Japan found that 60% of men and women over 50 were not producing stomach acid during digestion. 

This is telling us that when we reach a certain age, our body stops producing stomach acid. This condition is called achlorhydria. But you can also suffer from low stomach acid, hypochlorhydria, at any age.


 
So what does this mean for you?
 
Even if you eat a healthy meal, your body won’t receive its benefits because you don’t have the gastric juice to properly digest it and absorb the nutrients, especially Vitamin B-12.
 
In addition to age, risk factors to hypochlorhydria include taking antacids, chronic stress, a diet that is poor in zinc, a bacterial infection called H. pylori, and having undergone stomach surgery.
 
If you are exposed to these risk factors or experience some of the symptoms below, you may have low stomach acid.

Symptoms

Symptoms of low stomach acid are far-reaching. At first they may start with indigestion and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. That creates havoc to your overall system as every organ of your body depends on these vitamins and minerals to function well. You may experience the following:

  • Weak fingernails and thinning of hair
  • Heartburn
  • Paleness
  • Weakness
  • Behavioral changes
  • Vision loss
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Frequent burping
  • Nausea while taking supplements
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle cramps
  • Blood sugar imbalance or diabetes

Prevention and Support

Understanding the causes and symptoms of hypochlorhydria is already half the battle. You can now create ways to support your gut for the prevention and improvement of hypochlorhydria. Your diet is a good start.
 
A diet that mostly consists of processed foods, sugar, and chemicals won’t do your gut any good, so avoid or limit these “foods”.
 
The following strategies will help your gut, but it is important to work with a practitioner so that it is individualized and appropriate for you:

  • Taking 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar with water before meals improves digestion and stomach pH in the long run (be sure to have ruled out H. pylori, ulcers, etc. first as certain conditions can worsen with ACV!!).
  • Taking probiotics may support your gut to heal. The increase in helpful gut bacteria aids the gut to function properly, producing the right amount of digestive enzymes and gastric juice. (If you have diarrhea or SIBO, speak with your practitioner to pick the right probiotic formula).
  • Increasing fermented foods gives your gut a wide variety of probiotic strains that help your gut to run smoothly. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are examples, and you can find more here.
  • Eating slowly and making sure you’ve chewed your food thoroughly before swallowing allows your gut to produce/secrete the gastric juice and digestive enzymes as well as supports the entire digestive system.

Your gut is at the root of your overall health, and I’m here to help you learn how to take care of it.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health, so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca 

How Gut Health & Weight Are Connected

How Gut Health & Weight Are Connected

Maintaining a healthy level of muscle and body fat (which is what most of us actually want when we refer to our weight) is one of the most impactful toggles on your overall health, longevity, and medical expenses. In the U.S. alone, in the U.S., 2 out 3 people are either overweight or obese. Furthermore, obese individuals spend 42% more of direct healthcare costs than normal-weight adults!

And guess what?  Your chances of gaining or losing weight can be determined by the health and diversity of your gut microbes.
 
Let’s explore some links between your gut microbes and your ability to gain or lose weight.

But first I’d just like to remind you that there is still time to sign up for my free online class tomorrow (details here. Hope you will join me!).

Dysbiosis

The bacteria in your gut have more essential functions to your health than you know. We discussed in the past how your gut plays a role in strengthening your immune system and in keeping your mood in check. But basically, your gut microbes regulate your metabolism, help in the absorption of nutrients, and even manage your weight.
 
Gut bacteria are essential in breaking down complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
 
But, there’s a problem when the environment in your gut is not healthy.  Dysbiosis happens when there is an imbalance in your gut’s microbial community, in which the beneficial bacteria are outnumbered by the disease-causing organisms (aka pathogens).
 
And what causes dysbiosis?
 
Every one of us is born with a different combination of gut microbes, but your lifestyle plays a big part in your gut health.
 
What you eat and what you do influences your gut microbes. According to studies, the gut microbiome of overweight and obese individuals have patterns of dysbiosis that are different than the gut microbiome patterns of healthy individuals.
 
There are 3 main contributors to dysbiosis:

  • Inflammation
  • High sugar levels in the blood
  • Antibiotics

The typical Western diet is high in both fat and sugar, which is both inflammatory and really harmful to your gut microbes. And we’re not talking about good quality fats from olives, avocados, wild/pastures meats/seafood, nuts and seeds or natural sugars from fruit and starchy veggies–but poor quality, processed versions that we simply wouldn’t have access to in nature. Speaking of low quality food sources, animals raised in feedlots receive low doses of antibiotics to gain weight faster. When we ingest those animals and their byproducts (like dairy), those antibiotics effect our microbiome and contribute to unhealthy patterns. So, the foods you eat regularly play a significant role in whether or not you have dysbiosis.
 
Bacteria Present in Slim Individual
 
In addition to dysbiosis, there are gut bacteria that actually prevent gaining weight and are found in slim individuals: Akkermansia muciniphila and Christensenella minuta.
 
While Christensenella depends on your genes, the presence of Akkermansia can be boosted by eating prebiotic foods.
 
Here’s a list of foods that boost Akkermansia.

  • Fish oil
  • Rhubarb extract
  • Flaxseeds
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Cranberries
  • Concord grapes
  • Black tea

Butyrate-Producing Gut Microbes
 
A healthy and diverse gut microbiome produces butyrate which breaks down dietary fiber into short-chain fatty acids that fight inflammation. Butyrate also produces hormones that tell the brain you are full. So less or no butyrate makes your brain think that you are still hungry even though you’ve had enough.

As you can see, diet and lifestyle matters.  I prepared some tips for you in the next newsletter  to further explore how you can boost your gut bacteria for weight loss. Stay tuned!
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth
(subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca