In ten years, I've yet to see a person suffering from gut issues that is not also anxious.
Anxious about their work, their health, their finances, their children, their parents, their love life, the planet, their purpose... the list goes on and on.
And now with the additional challenges the pandemic has brought - it's intense. Everyone is experiencing some level of anxiety.
So last week we talked about GABA and it's friend taurine, and how that is a good aid for reducing anxiety (but not if it comes from alcohol).
Today, I'm going to introduce to you four well-researched herbs that can help too:
If you're struggling everyday with anxiety, please give these herbs a try. You'll need something stronger than a tea, so opt for a tincture or supplement form - stay away from tablets though.
Next week we'll look at some important nutrients to focus on, as well as lesser known causes of anxiety, like copper and histamine imbalances.
Until then, take this <big hug> and <elbow bump> from me to you, and may you be at ease today.
So what if we drink a little in the evenings to relax? Lots of studies tell us that it can be healthy.
Well, it can be - but not if you have gut issues, and not if you are experiencing high levels of anxiety.
Initially, alcohol promotes production of GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid), a neurotransmitter that makes us feel at peace. It accomplishes this by calming down excess adrenalin and changing serotonin levels.
So having enough GABA in your brain brings on the happy and relaxed feelings, while not enough can make you feel anxious, tense, depressed and have difficulty sleeping.
1. For one hour after that first drink, our GABA levels rise! We feel sociable, relaxed, happy even!
2. An hour later, the GABA levels fall and, uh-oh, we become irritable,.
Many people skip this last stage by going to bed. But even one drink can disrupt our dream cycle - and this is what regenerates our mind! Without it, we wake up grumpy, irritable, sluggish... (and so do our livers! But that is another topic)
The net affect is that alcohol makes us MORE anxious, not less. Dang.
However, GABA production is good for us, so let's look at some ways that we can get it from food. To do this, we need foods high in the amino acid taurine.
Many people think taurine is a stimulant because its found in many sports drinks, but it isn't - it helps you to recover from high levels of adrenaline, like GABA, and has been shown to help with insomnia, depression and even mania.
Taurine is found in high concentrations in fish, eggs and meats. (Of course, assimilating this amino acid depends on strong stomach secretions so if you have weak digestion, you may want to take a digestive enzyme with HCL when eating these foods).
What if you're vegan? Google foods high in the amino acids methonine and cysteine (try this link), as your body can make taurine from them as long as you have normal levels of vitamin B6 in your body. If you are anxious/stressed, it will benefit you to be taking a vitamin B complex anyways.
My last word of advice? Try eating a banana, everyday. It contains important calming nutrients like B-vitamins, magnesium and potassium. It is an excellent prebiotic for the colon (so it feeds the bacteria in your gut that make GABA), and it is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body needs to make serotonin, a chemical which has a calming effect on the brain as well.
There are plenty of other aids avaiable to us too. I'll get into those next week, as well as nutrients you may be missing that is preventing them from working for you.
Happy August to you! How are you managing?
I had some good days in July but I admit I am feeling weighed down by so many concerns. As I listen to family, friends, and clients from all over North America, struggling with so many fears and worries, I am VERY concerned for our mental health!
Is worry or anxiety getting the better of you too? If yes, stick with me this month as we explore how anxiety affects our gut, brain and body, and how to reduce or eliminate it!
These are intense times, both globally and, for some of us, in our homes and communities too.
And, it doesn’t help, but it’s important to know, that anxiety can be intensified by poor digestion in two significant ways:
1) Weak digestion in the stomach can deprive us of the calming effects of magnesium as well as immune-boosting iron and zinc.
2) Insufficient good bacteria in our colon interupts manufacturing of GABA which is meant to calm us.
How do you know if you are anxious? Maybe you don't feel it. Well, I took a poll in the It Takes Guts Community facebook group, and the most common anxiety symptoms people are experiencing right now are:
So, whether your MIND agrees that something is stressful or not, your BODY sure knows it! Why?
Stress and anxiety put our body into emergency mode, and the sympathetic nervous system is activated. thus all our energy is channeled from maintenance and repair, to physical reaction to the stress.
These reactions are supposed to help us fight or flee… but in our modern day, we are more likely to honk the horn, raise our voice or bottle it up inside.
When most people are faced with intense anxiety, they will look to self-medicate with alcohol (as well as marijuana, prescription drugs, media and others).
Why? Because it works!
Well, it does and then it doesn’t.
And you need to know both why and how so you can get out of the trap.
Keep an eye out for my next article as I go into how one special neurotransmitter/amino acid that changes everything about how we experience anxiety AND how everything we need to help ourselves is found in foods you already know and love... without the booze.
Q: What does bloating have in common with food intolerance, skin rashes, brain fog and the struggle to lose weight?
A: A party of misbehaving gut flora... an imbalance of bad to good microbes in your gut.
It’s called DYSBIOSIS.
And there are many causes. Let's take a look at the common ones:
But we can HACK this, . Here’s what to do:
Step #1 In order to give your good gut bacteria the upper hand, strengthening digestion in your stomach is the top priority. This means slowing down at mealtimes, chewing well, not drinking with your meals and maybe taking a digestive enzyme if you are often feel bloated or sluggish after eating.
Step #2 To help grow and nourish a healthy microbiome, we must eat gut-supportive foods daily! Prebiotic foods like garlic, onion, asparagus, leeks, oats, lentils and artichokes, as well as probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and pickles. Check out this resource I provide in my Guts to Heal Program.
NOTE: If you’re on a low FODMAPS diet, you may need profesional guidance on which prebiotic foods work best for you.
But this is JULY and we’re focusing WILD FOODS on meet our needs, so let’s look at a few:
Chickweed is very good for the lower digestive tract as it helps regulate the intestinal flora and colon bacteria, and absorbs toxins and speeds up bowel transit time.
Plantain is said to help diarrhea and lower inflammation of IBS (as does red clover). It is also a great leaf to chew and put on your skin to stop the itch of mosquito bites!
There are also many mushrooms that can aid gut health – but here are two worth mentioning:
Chaga, actually a fungus and not a mushroom, has gut benefits that include improving digestion, soothing ulcers and gastritis, fighting infections, stabilizing blood sugar and cholesterol, and aiding liver and brain function. Where to find it? Check out this link.
Tremella IS a mushroom. It also helps stabilize blood sugar and liver health, but it’s gut superpower is assisting with collagen development, thereby protecting the gastrointestinal lining (and your skin). It is also a good one for the GUT-BRAIN function as it’s said to help memory and repair brain and nerve tissue.
Have you tried any of these? What was your experience with them?
Anxiety, depression, mood swings!
Headaches, low energy, weight gain!
PMS, early menopause or irregular cycles!
Any of this sound familiar?
While your doctor or the media may be telling you its your hormones, your thyroid, or your diet… guess what? It's not the whole truth.
It’s your liver.
Your liver is the STAR regulator of your hormones. It’s breaks down excess hormones, like estrogen, for elimination, which affects how your endocrine glands function - especially the thyroid and adrenal glands. This determines how energized or happy you can feel.
Your liver also processes and breakdowns toxins. The portal vein receives all the blood from the intestines and delivers it straight to the liver. The “toxic load” from the intestines may be higher if there is incomplete digestion and a high level of unfriendly bacteria in the gut.
When the toxic load gets too high, the liver has a tough time doing it’s jobs, which means excess toxins and hormones are not being eliminated from the body. Too much of even one hormone can cause a feedback issue with all the rest, and we may experience the above mentioned problems.
The good news? The liver's function is dependant on the health of our gut!
In particular, the health of our gut flora and the intestinal lining.
So if you're working with me, relax! You're on track with that!
(And if you're not, what is stopping you? It's a good question to consider or talk about. Remember you can book a free call with me here)
This month we're focusing on what we can find outdoors to help our gut. You can check out the full list in our It Takes Guts Community facebook group, but let’s look at one common and beautiful wild weed that is great for the liver – YARROW or Achillea millefolium
Yarrow is an bitter herb that can relieve stomach indigestion, bloating, gas, and nausea. Take it as a tea before a meal or use up to 10 drops of tincture after a meal.
Yarrow also helps cleanse the liver so that hormones like progestoerone and estrogen are processed more efficiently. It can help regulate a woman's menstral cycle and soothe heavy or painful periods.
Common yarrow comes in a variety of colours - yellow, white or pink. We find it in meadows, sandy slopes, dry or gravel-ly areas across Canada and the entire circumpolar north.
Easiest way to consume it is to make a tea of the flower heads, and a couple of the leaves. I like to mix it with pineapple weed/wild chamomile, a few rose petals and a teeny bit of local honey.
Here's a cool 5 minute video on it! Very interesting history and many, many benefits beyond digestion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qda16Wip_E8
Give it a try and let me know how it changes your symptoms!
It Takes Guts Nutrition
Katanne Belisle RHN
Gut Health Specialist
Whitehorse, YT, CAN
What Clients Are Saying
"I was plagued by a myriad of digestive and inflammatory issues and after months of discomfort I was fortunate enough to meet Katanne. Her insight, intuition, knowledge and caring attention has made it possible for me to heal and thrive with a new understanding of the food I eat. I am now healthier, happier and have more energy than I have had in quite some time. " ~ Steve T.
"Katanne gives well balanced information versed in first hand experience and research. After seeing various health professionals over the years, doing my own research, trials and tribulations, I can (say) that this is the real deal, and that what she provides people is a holistic, realistic approach to healing oneself through food" ~ Elizabeth G.