How Gut Health is Related to Anxiety

Aug 17, 2023

Did you know you have a brain in your belly? It’s called the enteric nervous system. Sometimes it’s called your second brain or “gut brain”. Your gut brain has more neurons (nerve cells) than your spine! Scientists didn’t pay much attention to it at first. But now, it seems that serotonin, a feel-good chemical that plays a big role in good moods, is produced in the enteric nervous system. More than 90% of serotonin is manufactured here. Butterflies in your tummy? That’s your enteric nervous system. 

Doctors used to think that anxious feelings can cause an upset stomach. Now, researchers think it may be the other way around. An imbalance in this gut-brain could be causing anxious feelings in the mind. Some researchers think one cause of anxiety may be lower levels of serotonin. For this reason, it’s important to have good gut health.

Here’s a simple practice that can help:

Easy Twist

Twisting is good for your abdominal area and your nervous system. These are two areas of your body that have a lot to do with anxious feelings. Twisting also helps you breathe better. Twists massage your digestive organs (and your enteric nervous system). They also stretch and massage the diaphragm. This is your major breathing muscle. This simple position also twists your spine which is the main channel for nerves in your body.

  • Start with a long, tall spine.
  • Turn so your hips and shoulders are towards perpendicular (90 degrees from each other).
  • Turn your chin over your back shoulder to complete the twist. If you are lying down, let the ear closest to the floor drop towards the floor.
  • Hold the twist for several moments as you breathe slow and easy.
  • Then, turn and twist the other way and hold the twist for a bit on this side too.

So simple! So good for you! Twist standing up, sitting in a chair, or on the floor lying down.

If you’re interested in more simple techniques for managing mind and mood, check out Anxious to Awesome: A Practical Guide for the Whole Family.

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