Gut Anxiety?

by Dr. Rebecca Sherry Eshraghi

If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you well know how bad it feels. Many have it on a regular basis, others have experienced occasional short periods of panic attacks.
Most times the feeling comes out of the blue, even in a relaxed state, while reading a book, watching a movie, sitting in a park… suddenly, you start feeling lightheaded, dizzy, your heart starts racing and you feel like you are going to have a heart attack, like you can’t catch your breath and then the panic sets in, mostly the feeling that you are going to die. When you start having regular panic attacks, you start to think there is something wrong with you mentally and maybe start taking anxiety medication that might or might not work.

But don’t worry…you are not crazy. Although prolonged stress can trigger anxiety attacks, there are other factors that play a role but are often overlooked. Many do not pay attention that around the time of an oncoming anxiety attack they start feeling gassy or start belching or passing gas and that their bowel habit has changed.
I’m sure by now you have heard about the fascinating research that shows there is a gut-brain connection; indeed, the gut is often referred to as the “second brain.” In fact, a very important neurotransmitter—serotonin—is produced mainly in the gut. A deficiency in serotonin can cause anxiety, poor sleep, inability to focus, agitation and mood swings, depression and more.
What leads to a deficiency in serotonin is prolonged stress, leaky gut, malabsorption, inadequate nutrient-dense foods, food allergies and lack of beneficial gut bacteria. Recent studies show that gut bacteria are key components in the production of serotonin.
What can you do to prevent and minimize the number of anxiety attacks? Here are some suggestions:
• Heal the gut. Replenish with good bacteria by taking probiotics and eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt and kefir.
• Get a food allergy test done. Sometimes we react to certain foods that can trigger anxiety attacks.
• Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. Inflammation is often caused by leaky gut and eating anti-inflammatory foods helps heal the gut faster. A list of anti-inflammatory foods includes: green leafy vegetables, celery, beets, salmon, berries, healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil).
• Avoid inflammatory foods. This includes processed foods, sugary foods like candy, soda and pastries, fried foods and dairy.
• Exercise regularly. Exercise is a very powerful tool to reduce anxiety and stress. Regular exercise means at least every other day—once or twice a week won’t be enough. Choose an exercise you enjoy, maybe dancing (the music also enhances emotional wellbeing), swimming is a good start if you are not physically fit, brisk walking or jogging in fresh air…the key is regularity and persistence.
Remember, you are not crazy…it’s all in your gut!

Natural Health Power Works is located at 6974 Griffin Rd., Davie. For more information, call 305-720-9099, email [email protected] or visit See ad page 50.

Sources: Emeran A. Mayer, Rob Knight, Sarkis K. Mazmanian, et al., “Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience”, Journal of Neuroscience, 2014
Jessica M. Yano, Kristie Yu, et al, “Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis”, Cell, 2015

Disclaimer: Information is for educational purposes only. Content does not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis or treatment and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider.

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