I remember being in work, feeling like I was about to have a panic attack.
My heart was racing, palms were sweating and my chest was tight from the anxiety
Nothing had even happened to trigger these feelings! I wasn't worrying about anything or having a stressful day at work, I was literally stood behind a desk in a store, with no customers to serve.
There was no way I would have believed that these frequent anxiety attacks were being driven my parasites and bacteria in my gut!
But they were.
After eliminating these GI infections I no longer have to deal with these symptoms and my mental health has improved dramatically.
If you aren't already aware, our gut health as a massive influence on our overall health.
From the creation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin to the proper functioning of our immune system, our gut does a lot.
For years, the focus for mental health treatment has been centred around 'fixing' chemical imbalances within the brain using medications. The latest research is actually showing that factors such as chronic inflammation, a dysregulated stress response, toxicity and nutrient deficiencies are the real reason behind neurological conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Did you know that the gut and brain were formed from the same embryonic tissue during our foetal development. They then separated but stayed connected via the Vagus Nerve, hence why the gut/brain connection is so strong.
Ever felt 'butterflies' or a knot in your stomach when nervous? Yep, that's a classic example of the gut/brain connection at work.
Today, I'm sharing with you some of the main reasons why poor gut health can lead to poor mental health. If we can work to address these factors, not only can digestive symptoms improve but also symptoms such as low mood, nervousness, obsessiveness, apathy, anger and brain fog.
" All Disease Begins In The Gut"
When we have too much 'bad' bacteria in our gut, compared to good bacteria, this can drive inflammation, adrenaline and cortisol production and can 'throw off' our immune systems. Yeast and fungal overgrowths, as well as parasitic infections, can also cause this reaction too.
Dysbiosis can occur after taking antibiotics, other medications such as the oral contraceptive pill, consuming a high sugar/low fibre diet, excessive emotional stress or as a result of food poisoning.
More signals and messages are sent from the GUT to the BRAIN than the other way round! Gut bacteria help to produce neurotransmitters such as the 'feel good hormone' serotonin and the 'Mr Motivator' neurotransmitter, dopamine. Therefore if our gut bacteria are out of whack and over run by 'bad guys', the messages sent to our brain are more likely to be pessimistic, anxiety-provoking and negative.
Inflammation is good to a certain point, however if chronic and uncontrolled it can begin to cause damage. The gut houses over 70% of our immune system, which is responsible for the inflammatory process. If something is irritating your gut lining (think food intolerances, gluten, a parasite, bacterial ovegrowth or NSAID medication) then this will be directly stimulating your immune system.
All chronic illness is driven by inflammation, mental health conditions are no exception. This inflammation triggers a stress response in our body, forcing our adrenal glands to produce hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Chronically elevated levels of these stress hormones can alter brain function and may lead to the development of depression and anxiety.
The 'cytokine model of cognitive function' looks at how brain inflammation is associated with cases of depression, anxiety, brain fog and autoimmune brain problems.
The epithelial lining of our gut is just one cell thick in most parts and is prone to damage. It is held together by 'tight junctions' which help to keep undigested food particles, unwanted toxins and bacterial fragments out of our blood stream. When this gut lining is damaged by things such as stress, medications, pesticides, alcohol and inflammatory foods, these things can seep into our blood stream, triggering our immune system and creating symptoms throughout our entire body.
'Leaky gut' has been linked to many neurological conditions such as ADHD, Alzheimers Disease, Autism, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, O.C.D, Schizophrenia, Multiple Sclerosis (M.S) and Parkinsons Disease.
In our brain we also have a similar protective layer known as the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), it is now believed that having a leaky gut can lead to a 'leaky brain' - (disruption of the BBB.)
"Fire in the gut equals fire in the brain"
In conventional medicine, our body systems are compartmentalised and we aren't viewed as the 'entire being' that we are.
We are sent to a Neurologist or Psychiatrist who looks at our brain and a Gatroenterologist who investigates our gut health. The two never communicate or consider the impact other body systems are having on their patients health condition.
We need to take a holistic approach in order to fully overcome our health issues and restore wellness. This includes making sure our sleep is optimal, staying hydrated, eating a nutrient-dense diet, moving your body, spending time with friends and family and managing stress levels.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I believe that the health of our gut determines the health of our entire body, therefore a lot of our attention should be on restoring and maintaining good digestive health.
If you are dealing with low mood, lack of motivation, anxiety, digestive issues or you just aren't feeling 'yourself', I'd love for you to get in touch and arrange a free 30 minute phone consultation with me.
In this call we can discuss your health needs and you will leave knowing the next steps to take in order to improve your mental or digestive health.