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Anxiety is a complicated and difficult thing to live with. 1 in 5 individuals in the USA live with this sometimes crippling disease. Most of what is done for treatment of anxiety gets at the symptoms and not the root of the problem.
Humans are multi-faceted creatures and we need to approach anxiety from multiple angles. I have observed that most folks tend to try to deal with anxiety from a psychological perspective. And if things get too bad then a psychologist or psychiatrist is in order. Sometimes spiritual pieces are brought in and a person is prayed for and may have recommendations for some kind of spiritual therapy. But I don’t see much addressed in the area of gut health and hormones. These 2 areas are key for dealing with anxiety, especially for women.
How is gut health related to anxiety?
The gut and the brain seem far removed. As I have written about in other places, a leaky gut can lead to many different problems, including mental and neurological issues. In short, the leaky gut allows large proteins, like those from gluten and dairy to get through the lining and they travel throughout the body causing problems in other areas. This includes the brain and it can lead to anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other mental illness.
Also serotonin is made in the gut and if the right set of beneficial bacteria are not being cultivated there, there may be a shortage of serotonin. This will affect the health of the brain and mental health.
So what can be done to heal the gut and help with anxiety?
The number one step is to work on healing the leaky gut by changing your diet and healing and sealing the gut. My first recommendation is the GAPS diet and I have many articles on this blog to help you get started on a diet like this. In short it involves cutting out grains, sugar, and all processed foods and focusing on broth, boiled meats and vegetables and limited fruits until healing is found.
Secondly specific bacteria are needed that are effective against anxiety. These bacteria are the ones I found that are needed for a healthy gut in someone wrestling with anxiety.
- Bacteroides fragilis (B. fragilis)
- Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum)
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus)
- Lactobacillus rhamnosis (L. rhamnosis)
- Bifidobacterium animalis (B. animalis)
- Lactococcus lactis (L. lactis)
- Streptococcus thermophiles (S. thermophiles) (source)
In my research I found a probiotic from Seeking Health (one of my favorite vitamin companies) that includes several of these. The product Probiota 12 has been helpful to a family member of mine who struggles with this issue.
What else can be done to help with anxiety?
After listening to the Anxiety Summit and a interview with Ron Sturtz, Owner/President, Lidtke Technologies, I think it is worth investigating the use of the amino acid Tryptophan. This amino acid is helpful for low serotonin and for the anxiety that can come from that. Trudy Scott who wrote the Anti-anxiety Food Solution recommends the Lidtke brand only of Tryptophan. She also recommends that if this does not help then 5-HTP can be helpful for people. (source)
The other supplement that can be helpful to people struggling with anxiety is GABA, for those with low GABA levels. “Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and the nervous system, and is involved in regulating communication between brain cells.” (source) I recommend GABA Calm by Source Naturals.
One other supplement that can be very helpful with anxiety and depression is turmeric. Several clinical trials have shown that turmeric can influence neurotransmitter balance in the brain. There is a good article here for more information on the benefits of turmeric.
What have you done to help with anxiety? If you try one of the suggestions above please let me know how it works for you? And please share this post with those who would benefit, It is a significant problem for many.