Gut Anxiety?

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Dr. Sherry Eshraghi, of Natural Health Power Works has been consulting with families at The Child Development Center of America, where she provides knowledgeable advice about nutrition and naturopathic intervention.

This week (11/16), Dr. Sherry writes:

If you have ever had a panic attack, you are well aware of how bad it feels. Many sufferers have it on a regular basis, others have experienced only occasional short periods of these episodes.

Often, 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 light-headed, dizzy, your pulse starts racing and you feel like you are going to have a heart attack. You feel like you can’t catch your breath and then the panic sets in, mostly the feeling that you are going to die.

The reaction can be so overwhelming that you phone for an ambulance, or go to the emergency room. After a thorough check-up, you may be informed that you are fully healthy and nothing is wrong. If you are given an accurate diagnosis – that you’ve had a panic attack – you feel dumbfounded and incredulous. When you start having regular anxiety spells, you may become concerned that something is wrong with you mentally. Perhaps you start taking medications 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. Generally, people do not pay attention to the earliest signs – feeling gassy, belching, passing gas, or that their bowel habit has changed.

serotonin-emoji-2You have probably heard about the fascinating research demonstrating that there is a gut-brain connection. Indeed, the gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’. In fact, a very important neurotransmitter – serotonin – is primarily produced in the abdomen. A deficiency in the chemical can cause anxiety, poor sleep, inability to focus, agitation and mood swings, depression, and more.

What leads to a deficiency in serotonin?
Prolonged stress, leaky gut, malabsorption, inadequate nutrient dense foods, food allergies and lack of beneficial gut bacteria are all culprits. 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?
Heal your gastrointestinal system! Get a food allergy test, replenish the gut with beneficial bacteria, reduce sugar and processed foods, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise regularly and learn to manage your stress early on.

Remember, you’re not out of your mind…
It’s all in your gut!

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

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