In this day and age, we know anxiety doesn't solely start with general nervousness or the stressful circumstances of all things 2020 and beyond — though the circumstances are reason enough to experience unease and worry.
Anxiety is also connected to the body. Mindfulness and grounding techniques (both of which make us feel more connected to our bodies) serve as helpful tools to manage anxiety. But that's only one piece of the puzzle — what we eat and drink can mitigate or exacerbate anxiety as well.
What is the gut-brain connection? And, how can we begin to repair it? Our experts weigh in.
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How Are Gut Health and Mental Health Linked?
"Most of us have heard of mind-body medicine (meaning how the mind affects the body) and know that stress can impact almost any illness," says Jordan Crofton, FNP, THE WELL Director of Patient Care. "What we might not always think about is the fact that the body can affect the mind — including everything from depression and anxiety to ADHD and dementia."
Exhibit A: The microbiome (aka the ecosystem of trillions of bacteria in your gut) can drive changes in your brain through direct communication to the brain.
Food, drinks, medication — all of these affect our brain and body, distilling down to the gut. Gut bacteria produces dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, GABA and more. What do these do?
- Dopamine is a motivator. When you exercise, your brain is flooded with dopamine.
- Serotonin affects the mood — and 90 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut.
- Acetylcholine is a memory neurotransmitter.
- GABA is an inhibitory, calming neurotransmitter.
With the gut-brain connection in mind, how can you target anxiety, depression or other mental/emotional health matters? One solution: a cleanse.
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How Can THE WELL Cleanse Help with Anxiety?
The gut microbiome is connected to emotional health — and THE WELL Cleanse is designed as a total-body reset, including the gut.
"By removing stimulating foods and addressing gut function, eating nutrient-dense foods and (ideally) prioritizing rest and sleep, you can experience less anxiety," says Amanda Carney, THE WELL Director of Health Coaching.
Crofton echoes this sentiment: "When we treat imbalances in the gut, we see improvements in brain health and anxiety."