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Anxiety and Gut-Brain Health

woman chopping vegetablesAs a functional nutritionist, Gabrielle Grandell focuses on the gut-brain connection but also recognizes that blood sugar balance is another huge factor in mood. “I look at what’s going on in the gut and with blood sugar dysregulation,” she said. That’s a common issue where a person’s blood sugar is too low or on a roller coaster. When that happens, they can develop some neurological issues.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition

If the environment in your gut is not ideal because of intestinal permeability or leaky gut or if there’s an imbalance in bacteria or if you’re not breaking your food down appropriately then you can’t feed your brain and other organs. These need those nutrients to be able to function optimally.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of sugar and highly processed and that negatively influences the brain too. To help improve mental health, it’s helpful to eat healthy fats like salmon, avocados and extra virgin olive. You also should choose foods rich in B vitamins and magnesium.

Balanced Gut, Better Mood

People think of their brain and their mood as something separate from the rest of their bodies. Research suggests that brain chemistry can be altered by influencing the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria found in the gut.
According to a 2012 article published by the American Psychological Association, gut bacteria manufacture 95 percent of your body’s supply of serotonin, an essential neurochemical that can affect digestion, mood and sleep. So by taking a probiotic you may be able to boost your mood and not only address anxiety and depression but OCD and various mood and mental disorders.

Sleep and Other Factors

Not getting good restorative sleep also can contribute to anxiety so we will ask about your sleep habits. Gabrielle also will ask a client about connections and what’s going on in their environment too. For example, she may ask, “Are you in a stressful relationship or are you bombarded with toxins?” We can look at all those things and determine what your stress level is like.

The Repair Process

What are you doing to repair and slow down? How can we get the nutrient levels to where they need to be to support those systems? How do we get the gut to a place where it’s not inflamed? A leaky gut is usually correlated with a leaky brain. A brain on fire usually ties in with a gut on fire.
When the gut is repaired you may be able to get off of pharmaceuticals for your anxiety. A lot of the populations Gabrielle sees are people who don’t want to start taking medication or want to wean down or get off of it.

Getting to the Root

“I also look at why depression or anxiety is there in the first place. By uncovering that you work to treat that or nourish a particular system. Then you don’t need the support of the medication which can sometimes have a negative impact,” said Gabrielle. She recognizes, however, that some people use medication as a bridge if they’re in a difficult place mentally.

If you’d like to address anxiety without having to resort to medication, contact us today to book an appointment. Be sure to check out our next post on
how functional nutrition can combat depression.

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