We’ve known for a while that gut health and mental health are bosom buddies. Studies have shown how too much sugar sparks anxiety and depression in dudes, and how probiotics can make us mentally stronger.
And now, those smarty-pants scientists have shown how having no gut microbiota can seriously affect our brain development and behaviour – and even cause anxiety.
A research team at the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork tested their theory on a bunch of poor little lab mice. Animal testing ethics aside, what they discovered was pretty darn remarkable:
Microbiota (the flora that lives in our gut) influence the molecules in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala – the two areas of the brain linked with anxiety and depression.
The mice with zero gut flora experienced abnormal anxiety. They were also showed more signs of depression, while being socially and cognitively impaired.
And when the mice were given antibiotics, the brain molecules changed. What does that mean? Even if we have healthy gut flora as kids, it can change throughout our lifetime…which could be why you sometimes find yourself more anxious than usual.
You can grab the geek speak and read the study here.
How to anxiety-proof your gut
I highly recommend Wellness Mama’s post, The Importance of Balancing Stress Hormones. It’s packed with info and tips on how stress, health and hormones are linked.
It’s also worth chatting with a naturopath or other health professional to get your gut and diet checked.
As a first step (and once you get the medical OK), you could try probiotics. These balance gut bacteria – and are a must after taking a course of antibiotics, which kill off a lot of the good gut stuff.
Other gut-loving foods include:
- Gelatin: I love these raspberry gummies from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Cod liver oil: tastes gross, so I pop it in my morning smoothie.
- Magnesium: I use the BetterYou Magnesium Oil spray.
I’m not paid for any of these recommendations, they’re just the things I love.
What do you think about the latest research on the link between gut health and anxiety?