Anxiety and what it has to do with our digestive system
Many of us are familiar with the sensation of butterflies in our stomach when we feel nervous, stressed or anxious. Sometimes we even say we feel ‘sick to our stomach’ over emotional events. We intuitively know there is a connection between our gut and our emotions, and in modern times science has confirmed this link.
Our brain and our gastrointestinal system (gut) are intimately linked by the vagus nerve, which extends all the way from the brain to the lower abdomen. We also have in our gut something called the enteric nervous system, which connects to our central nervous system and influences muscular activity and digestive processes. It also connects emotions and cognitive processes with our digestive function, making it easy to see why we get butterflies, stomach cramps and that sick feeling in our stomach when we feel anxious.
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition, and some of its more common symptoms are directly linked to digestion. For example diarrhoea, upset stomach, no appetite and weight loss or gain are all common symptoms. We can also exacerbate other symptoms such as shallow breathing, rapid heart rate and panic attacks by the consumption of stimulants, which initially exert their effects via digestion.
In more recent years science has also been able to show a link between the bacteria in our gut, and its influence on our brain chemistry and behaviour. We know too that many of our neurotransmitters for healthy moods are created in the gut, including serotonin and dopamine, both of which directly effect anxiety and depression. When the bacteria are out of balance, symptoms worsen, and when they are brought back into balance through diet and probiotic treatment this can normalise behaviour and neurotransmitter production, resulting in healthy happy moods.
Gut health and mood are intrinsically linked, and if this is an area that you’d like help with I’d be honoured to create a tailored treatment plan to get your gut health humming and your moods happy. You can book your appointment online now or call me on 0459 741 002 for your booking.