Living with anxiety can be crippling. It’s more than getting anxious sometimes, like before a big test or stage fright.
When anxiety becomes a daily struggle, everything gets magnified, and your worries can spin out of control. That makes it unbearably difficult to go to school or work, socialize, or even relax. And when you’re stuck in “anxious brain,” it feels impossible to escape or think about anything else.
While most experts believe that anxiety is brought on by an imbalanced brain, brand new research has uncovered a different cause: an imbalanced gut.
That’s right. Your gut microbiome, the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut, may be the root cause of your anxiety… and the best way to conquer it.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Weird, but true: Your gut is considered your “second brain.”
That’s because your gut microbiome has a direct connection to your brain – the vagus nerve. The two communicate constantly, and the conversation flows both ways: from your brain to your gut and from your gut to your brain. But the connection doesn’t end there.
“Gut feelings” are instant messages from your gut to your brain.
Along with that express link, your gut also
- hosts a huge portion of your nervous system
- produces most of your neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that affect mood and behavior)
- manages your stress responses
When your gut microbiome is healthy and balanced – meaning there are more beneficial bacteria than harmful bacteria – your brain gets positive messages. But when your gut is out of balance (a condition called dysbiosis), it sends very different messages, and those can create anxiety, fear, and depression. (Learn more)
Your Nervous System Calls the Shots
Your moods, stress response, and mental health come from your autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS runs thousands of functions automatically all the time, keying off of messages from both your body and your surroundings. It controls your blood pressure, breathing rate, body temperature, and many more automatic body processes.
Your ANS is split into two main parts:
- Sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which kicks off fight-flight-freeze reactions. This system is supposed to be survival-based, and shut off when the danger has passed (like you’ve escaped being eaten by a tiger). But in today’s constant stress world, your SNS can stay on high alert almost all of the time, and that can lead to big physical and mental health issues.
- Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), responsible for calming everything down and getting the body back in balance. The PNS sparks repair, rest, and digestion, along with feelings of tranquility, love, and connection.
The part of your nervous system that lives in your gut – the ENS, or enteric nervous system – is supposed to work with the PNS and the SNS pretty evenly, so you feel balanced most of the time. But when your gut is out of balance itself – in dysbiosis – it can start to focus attention on just one side of your ANS… usually the one that makes you feel like you’re constantly being chased by tigers.
How Your Gut Triggers Anxiety
When dysbiosis takes over your gut, and bad bacteria (pathogens) outnumber good bacteria (probiotics), your gut starts sending the wrong messages to your nervous system. Worse, it uses five methods to set off or increase anxiety (and other mood disorders like depression).
- Bad bacteria trigger toxic streaming, and that’s exactly as bad as it sounds. Pathogens attack the gut barrier, which is supposed to keep pathogens and LPS toxins (also called lipopolysaccharides) inside your gut and out of your bloodstream. When the barrier gets damaged, those LPS toxins escape and trick your ENS (the part of your nervous system in your gut) into sending distress messages to your brain – and those can cause feelings of fear and anxiety. (Read more)
- Bad bacteria cause inflammation – and not just in your gut. Inflammation can spread throughout your body, and that includes your vagus nerve – the communication pathway between your gut and your brain. When your brain is troubled by inflammation (called neuroinflammation), that can cause anxiety disorders.
- Pathogenic bacteria create disruptive proteins (peptides) that contribute to stress and anxiety. These proteins can send out negative signals to the brain, bringing on symptoms of depression and anxiety. The proteins also may increase inflammation and activate genes associated with anxiety behaviors.
- Bad bacteria alter your stress response… and not in a good way. Dysbiosis can increase production of cortisol, the stress hormone. When your body is constantly flooded with cortisol, you suffer from chronic stress – your body virtually never settles down. That includes your brain, and it results in those spinning, spiraling anxious thoughts and worrisome what-ifs that can make it hard to deal with anything else in your life.
- Bad bacteria interfere with “feel-good” chemical production. Your gut acts as a neurotransmitter factory, producing many of the brain chemicals you need to feel calm and happy. Beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in your gut produce at least 90% of your serotonin and at least 50% of your dopamine – two chemicals you need to feel good. (Learn more here) However, when pathogens take over your gut, there are fewer probiotics left to produce those crucial neurotransmitters. And when levels run low, you can start to feel anxious and depressed.
The good news: Rebalancing your microbiome so the beneficial bacteria outnumber the pathogens can reverse those actions… and keeping your gut in healthy balance can make sure they don’t happen again.
Change Your Gut to Calm Anxiety
As it turns out, the first – and possibly most important – step to stopping anxiety from taking over your life is to fix your gut microbiome.
There’s a whole new field of research shaping up, and it could forever change the way we deal with mental health issues like anxiety. Instead of starting with drugs (and their many potential side effects), cutting edge scientists are looking at a “gut first” approach.
A brand new mega-study showed that rebalancing the gut helped reduce anxiety symptoms most of the time. The researchers looked at two different types of interventions: using probiotic supplements to change gut bacteria, or using other methods (like prebiotic supplements or dietary changes) to encourage beneficial bacteria in the gut.
And that’s not really surprising…
Choosing a Probiotic That Really Works
When you’re counting on your probiotic supplement to reshape and rebalance your microbiome, it’s crucial to know exactly what you’re getting. After all, a supplement that doesn’t bring gut balance won’t be able to affect all the positive changes (like fewer anxiety symptoms) that come with a healthy microbiome.
So how can you choose the best probiotic?
The only probiotic supplements that can help rebalance an out-of-whack gut microbiome have three defining characteristics:
- Every capsule in the bottle contains the ingredients listed on the label… exactly
- The supplement includes well-studied probiotic strains with proven health benefits
- The probiotics themselves survive the hazards of your digestive system, make it all the way to your gut, and thrive once they get there
On top of all that, even ideal probiotic supplements can’t work alone. Just like us, they need a steady supply of healthy “foods” to flourish. That means making sure you get plenty of specific prebiotic fibers, the kind that selectively nourish the most important beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.
By adding the right kind of probiotics and feeding them exactly what they need to thrive, you can rebalance your gut… and enjoy the hundreds of health benefits a happy microbiome brings.
Balance Your Microbiome with Just Thrive
It takes a reliable, high-quality spore probiotic to counteract dysbiosis and toxic streaming… and that’s exactly what Just Thrive Probiotic delivers.
Just Thrive Probiotic contains four clinically proven strains of spore probiotics. Spore probiotics are well known for their unmatched survival skills – both in the bottle and through the digestive system – so they arrive in the gut alive, healthy, and ready to make positive changes. And you can count on every capsule of Just Thrive Probiotic to contain exactly what the label says it does – nothing more, nothing less.
Get your gut in balance today with Just Thrive Probiotic.
And to give those proven spore probiotics more support, keep them well nourished with Just Thrive Precision PREbiotic.
Support your gut microbiome with Just Thrive today.