When you experience an ominous instinct, you might refer to it as a "gut feeling." It's no accident that this saying exists. Researchers have long studied the way that anxiety and other strong emotional responses have an effect on your gut.
In fact, it's suggested that your digestive system and brain are so connected that the gut is considered "the second brain." A few studies have discovered just what constitutes this relationship, and what it means for both digestive and emotional problems.
Jay Parischa, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, found that the enteric nervous system can cause certain emotional changes in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems, such as constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
"For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems," he said. "But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes."
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada also found that bacteria in the gut can influence your brain chemistry and, subsequently, your emotions and behavior. The 2011 study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, disrupted the gut bacterial content in mice, which in turn increased their brain derived neurotrophic factor. This chemical has been linked to depression and anxiety.
So what does this mean if you're living with either of these conditions? It could mean that it's time to consider how your diet affects your gut, and if there are changes you can make to address these issues. In this effort, many have benefited from the GAPS Diet, which was designed for patients suffering from certain psychiatric and psychological disorders as well as problems in their immune and digestive systems.
For additional information about the GAPS Diet and how to get started, you can consult with a Certified GAPS Practitioner and visit the rest of our website.