Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).
There is no denying the connection between the gut and the mind, but so many people fail to recognize that their anxiety or depression may be a direct result of an unbalanced digestive system. So many common situations can lead to symptoms, from antibiotic use and stress to a poor diet, all factors that seem to be the norm in today’s busy society.
But when the gut is off, so many functions in the body are negatively affected. An unbalanced gut can be disguised as an inability to handle everyday stressors, heartburn, sleep issues and even skin irritations. It is no surprise that the connection is rarely made. But it isn’t the end of the road. There are plenty of ways to restore good bacteria that are simple, healthy and effective. You’ll be surprised at how good you feel once you have created a well-balanced gut.
Here are a few ways to get started today:
Eat fermented foods
You have probably been told to consider taking a probiotic during and after a course of antibiotics. To support a healthy gut microbiome, probiotics are a friendly bacteria that can help bring balance to the gut and reduce inflammation. But if taking a pill is not your thing, you can find support by consuming naturally fermented foods. This includes obvious things like sauerkraut and yogurt, but can also include smoothies made with kefir and yummy miso soup.
Cut back on sugars
A high-sugar diet is just an overall bad decision for your body, from your head to your toes. The gut suffers when sugar increases inflammation throughout the body and damages the gut. Sugar, in fact, feeds the bad bacteria, allowing it to thrive and decreasing the positive properties of good bacteria.
Stress. A certain level of it is expected and, while some of us handle it better than others, it can be detrimental to our physical and mental health. Stress can lead to body aches, headaches, anxiety, depression and, you guessed it, tummy troubles. Chronic stress in your life can decrease blood and oxygen throughout the body and even just a little bit can weaken the intestinal barrier. Some even say the gut is the body’s second brain – constantly communicating with every major function of the body.
Regular physical activity releases amazing chemicals that improve physical and mental health. Dopamine and serotonin can increase happiness and overall give us a brighter outlook on life. But exercise also lowers body fat, gets blood flowing and allows more oxygen to be delivered. Even just a small amount of exercise each day can offer amazing benefits to the body and mind.