During the 21 day Elimination Diet, we ask clients to look at what areas of their lives other than food, require eliminating. Stress is a massive one, as it has a direct impact on gut health. The link between Anxiety and IBS is no secret. It's probably the easiest way to understand the gut-brain connection. When you consider that 90% of serotonin - the happy neurotransmitter - is produced in the gut, and transported to the brain by the vagus nerve, it stands to reason that when we experience stress, our bodies produce more cortisol - our stress hormone - upsetting the balance of good bacteria in the gut, thereby impacting the production of serotonin.
Consider the areas of your life that cause you stress.
Perhaps it's your morning commute.
Perhaps it's the work that you are doing.
Or the relationships, intimate as well as platonic or professional, which may be which may be affecting you.
Is there anything that you can change to ease the pressure, and reduce the load?
One strategy that often reaps huge rewards, but requires minimum effort, is to develop a sense of gratitude. While it’s easy to complain, it is just as easy to find 5 minutes to sit down, put pen to paper, and focus on the positive things that are happening around you, and to you, each day. This practice has been shown to improve mood via the formation of new neural pathways, that are programmed to perceive good. It makes a difference to overall stress, depression, and anxiety levels. It's also an exercise in mindfulness, and training your brain to focus.
The knock-on effect is that it can help facilitate the healing of the gut by making you less likely to feel overwhelmed, thereby reducing your levels of cortisol, and upping your levels of serotonin. You're also more likely to choose more healing foods, and less likely to reach for the gut-health baddies.
The Mind-Body Connection
As you can see, this mind-body approach can powerfully impact your biochemistry, by focusing on the restoration of the powerhouse of your body. When you understand that the body's systems work in concert together - brain impacting gut, gut impacting brain - you are then in a position to take action from a place of knowledge. All areas of your health - from your skin, to your mood, to your weight, to your energy, to even your relationships - are bound to notice the benefits.