Doctors and researchers have discovered that when our microbial gut flora is compromised or lacks diversity, we may experience a number of health issues, including anxiety. In my last post, I began to explore factors that may influence our gut flora. In this post, I explore even more.

Inflammation

Inflammation is sometimes obvious. For example, if you cut your finger, it gets red and swollen. Other times, you may not recognize inflammation. It may emerge as acne, allergies, autoimmune disease, fatigue, or itchy skin. Inflammation can also produce anxiety-provoking chemicals. These chemicals can create symptoms such as depression, lethargy, sleep disturbances, learning issues, and decreased social activity, mobility, and libido, and more. In the article From Gut to Brain: The Inflammation Connection, Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD states “Psychiatric researchers have observed that patients with higher levels of inflammatory markers are less likely to respond to antidepressants, and more likely to respond to anti-inflammatories.”

Brain Injuries

Brain injuries contribute to a broken communication network between the gut and brain. They can cause issues such as leaky gut, compromised intestinal mucosa, and brain immune dysfunction. It seems crazy, right? But don’t be surprised if you started experiencing anxiety after a head injury. A couple of years ago, I was riding my bicycle on a wooded gravel road along the Maine coast.  I heard a loud engine and instinctively squeezed both brakes, causing the bike to skid across the gravel. My head, shoulder, and hip slammed to the ground. Thankfully, I was wearing a helmet. Still, I’m pretty sure that hitting my head kicked off some chronic gut issues that I’m healing now, years later. Curious to learn more? Check out 7 Reasons a Brain Injury Can Destroy Your Gut.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, and fleas. It’s spreading at epic rates around the globe, bringing with it a vast array of physical and mental symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, foggy thinking, disturbed sleep, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and—you got it—anxiety and depression. Many of these symptoms present themselves in other diseases, which means that lyme disease is often mis-diagnosed. To make matters worse, conventional blood screenings for lyme disease are often wrong. The lyme bacteria hide in your gut and other parts of your body, and aren’t often picked up by the standard blood test. So what can you do? My family goes to an Eastern Medicine practitioner who uses an accurate diagnostic tool that tests energy fields in your body. He treats lyme disease through homeopathy. I am thankful that he treated one of my daughters, who is now free from the disease. The website “Lyme Less Live More” offers more holistic strategies as well.

Smoking

In addition to compromising your lung function, cigarette smoking causes profound disruptions in the diversity and composition of gut bacteria. This lack of diversity can be a contributing factor to anxiety.  The good news is that if you can make your way through anxiety of quitting, you can restore the gut flora over time.

Improving Your Gut Flora 

While this gut-compromising list may seem lengthy and overwhelming at first glance, keep in mind that any disruption or imbalance that you may have in your gut can be reversed. “First we weed, seed, and feed, and then we heal and we seal,” says Caroline Barringer. Through attention to food, lifestyle, and nutritional supplements, your gut balance can be restored and your anxiety symptoms can be put to rest.