The Gut Brain Axis
Here at Rachel Scheer Nutrition, we often refer to our gut as “the second brain.” Kind of a funny turn of phrase, but keep reading for more of an explanation as to why we focus on gut health so heavily in our practice.
When you hear the term “gut health” what might come to mind is things like probiotics, eating enough fiber, or going 💩every day. However, the more we learn about the gut microbiome, the more we can see how interconnected our gut is with the rest of our body. It is more than just the food you put in your mouth. Your gut health can actually influence things like anxiety, brain fog, insomnia and so much more!
A recent article published by Harvard Medical School stated:
“A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected.”
Research like this can be revolutionary for those of us who are struggling with mental health, and on which medications seem to do the bare minimum. I know I personally have struggled with both anxiety and depression, in addition to a plethora of gut related symptoms. I wish I would have known what I do now about gut health to help heal not only my physical health, but my mental health as well. That is why I am here today telling you these things so that you don’t have to fall victim to the common thought pattern of medication being the only answer!!
Now, I do have to caveat that statement. Can medication be helpful?
Absolutely! I myself was on medication for anxiety when I was going through the worst of it, but I knew that wasn’t a long-term answer because it wasn’t addressing the root cause of why I was feeling anxious! The root causes of anxiety/depression can be different for everyone, but what if the root cause of your mental health struggles wasn’t actually related to your brain at all, but actually your GUT!?
Have you ever heard of the gut-brain axis before?
Well just in case, the gut-brain axis is “the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and gut microbiota.” To put that a little more plainly, the bacteria and organisms in your gut have direct communication with your brain via hormones, neurotransmitters and other important pathways.
This means that if your gut is imbalanced in any way, not only will it impact the way your physical GI tract functions, but it can also impact the way your immune system fights off infection, how your hormones communicate with the rest of your body, and even have influence over how much joy you feel on a regular basis (we know that around 95% of our body’s serotonin production occurs in the gut!!).
So how do you know if your gut is imbalanced if you don’t notice the typical “gut issues” of gas, bloating, constipation/diarrhea, etc.?
Well, here at RSN we do extensive and comprehensive testing that gives us an in depth understanding of how your gut is functioning, and where imbalances may be present for you. Take my own lab test results for example.
In the image above, you can see how elevated my marker called fecal zonulin was. Fecal zonulin is a measure of intestinal permeability, more commonly known as “leaky gut” which causes a whole host of issues for the one struggling. These include, but are not limited to, inflammatory bowel disease, blood sugar regulation issues, asthma and… anxiety/depression (reference).
Through changing my diet, adding in targeted supplements, seeking counseling, prayer and changing habits in my lifestyle (it’s true, supplements/medication alone aren’t enough) I have been able to heal my gut and mitigate my symptoms of anxiety/depression. Now, I am not here saying I never have bad days, I am human after all, but what I am saying is that by not only focusing in on my mental health, but actually taking a step back and focusing on my body’s health as a whole, I have seen improvements in my mental health that are much more profound than when I was on medication alone!
If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, click here to sign up for a FREE 30-minute call a member of our team! We would love to help you not only look but feel like the best and brightest version of yourself!!
Rachel Scheer is a Certified Nutritionist who received her degree from Baylor University in Nutrition Science and Dietetics. Rachel has her own private nutrition and counseling practice located in McKinney, Texas. Rachel has helped clients with a wide range of nutritional needs enhance their athletic performance, improve their physical and mental health, and make positive lifelong eating and exercise behavior changes.
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