Gut Health and Anxiety

6 Minute Read
Gut Health and Anxiety

Can your gut health impact your anxiety response?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is also yes, but with more detail.

In truth, the connection between your brain and gut affects digestion, mood, and even the way you think.

Digestive issues account for 100 million healthcare visits a year.1 Couple that with anxiety being the most common mental health concern in the U.S. (over a third of the U.S. population has experienced anxiety) and a picture emerges that’s not just a clear correlation between these two, but causation as well.

Colorful coral shape that resembles the human brain.

The Gut… A Second Brain?

Research shows that people with certain gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for one, are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.

Is that just a coincidence?
Science says no.

When it comes to controlling your body, the brain comes to mind. (No pun intended.) But we’re discovering that your gut also has its own “brain”– the enteric nervous system, also known as ENS. Not only is the ENS the largest collection of nerve cells outside the brain, (100 million!), the ENS can operate independently from the brain too.

The gut and brain are linked through a two-way communication pathway between the digestive system and the nervous system. Scientists call this the “gut-brain axis”– basically, this is a two-way street wherein the gut can affect the brain and the brain can affect the gut. This link means that the health of your gut can have a profound impact on your mental health and anxiety response.

The reason your gut health is so crucial is because of your gut’s microbiome. It is key to communication in the gut-brain axis.

Home to over 70% of your immune system and also where an entire ecosystem of microorganisms live that all help regulate your body’s important functions, like digestion, your microbiome is unique to you, shaped by an entire lifetime of environment and diet.

When your microbiota are in balance, this ecosystem flourishes and your gut is healthy. But if this balance is thrown off, it can lead to what’s known as dysbiosis (basically an imbalance in the composition of gut bacteria). This is linked to inflammation and can have an impact on the function of the gut, and the proper communication in the gut-brain axis, including contributing to anxiety and other mental health issues.

Are Gut Health and Mental Health Connected?

With emerging research, we’re also seeing that not only is an unhealthy gut connected to anxiety, but the inverse could be true, too. (That mental health can have an effect on gut health.) Stress and depression can reshape the gut microbiota’s composition and have far-reaching effects. That’s because when nervous, anxious, or stressed, your body goes into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode and releases hormones and chemicals that can affect the make-up of your microbiome and can cause several gastrointestinal issues, including:

  • Indigestion
  • Stomach upset and diarrhea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite or unusual hunger
  • Nausea

But the issues don’t end there. This inflammation in the gut that stresses the microbiome can lead to the release of cytokines (small proteins). Research suggests that increased levels of inflammatory cytokines directly correlate with symptoms of anxiety and depression, too.

Additionally, the microbiome’s make-up also plays a role in the development and function in your body’s adaptive stress response overall, which is also directly connected to anxiety.

Furthermore, your gut is also responsible for producing several neurotransmitters, including serotonin (often called a "feel-good" chemical). Serotonin is produced both in the brain and in the gut, where it plays a vital role in regulating digestive function and reducing anxiety. Disruption in the gut microbiome can lead to a decrease in serotonin production and thereby contribute to anxiety.

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How Can You Improve Gut Health and Anxiety?

Poor diet, stress (ironically), the overuse of antibiotics, and everyday exposure to toxins and pollutants can compromise the gut and contribute to anxiety.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help.

1. Mind what you eat

Eating to support your mental and gut health is something you can control that can have a daily impact. Here are some of our favorite foods to help both gut and mental health.

Omega-3 fatty acids

These fatty acids are an essential fat that the body cannot produce, so we must get them via food, including flax seeds and walnuts. These fats are unique in that they have the ability to change the structure and function of cell membranes, and have a large swath of benefits, from improved cardiovascular and metabolism function to better gut health. They have even been shown to reduce the risk of brain disorders.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods–including kimchi and sauerkraut–all contain healthy microbes including lactic acid bacteria which are good for gut health.

High-fiber foods

There are many reasons high-fiber foods are good for you. A big one is that high fiber foods like nuts, whole grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables contain prebiotic fibers that your gut bacteria love. (Also, prebiotics can reduce stress hormones!)

Polyphenol-rich foods

These naturally-occurring organic compounds from plants have a multitude of beneficial influences on one’s health (including increasing healthy gut bacteria and improving cognition) thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cocoa, green tea, and olive oil are polyphenol-rich foods.

2. Mind how you eat

“Rest and digest” isn’t just a cute rhyme, it has scientific merit! That is, it’s important to relax post-meal, so your body’s gastric juices can do their work: absorb the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support a healthy body and brain.

3. Exercise

Look, we all know it’s good for us. If you need another reason, getting exercise reduces stress (a big cause and connection to both gut issues and anxiety response) and improves your physical and emotional well-being overall.

hands holding a warm mug of tea.

4. Stay hydrated

Hydration is not just simply about drinking enough water it’s about getting water inside your cells.

About two-thirds of your body is composed of water, and a majority of that water — about 66 to 70 percent — is within your cells and lymph system.

With age, your body tends to lose its ability to get water from the bloodstream into the extracellular environment, to the inside of your cells.

Without water, we literally starve at the cellular level.  No fuel for growth, maintenance, or repair. We decay. We normalize that with the description and experience of aging.  What if we simply never were taught to hydrate correctly, and we as a species have been on an ever increasing trend of dehydration for centuries.

So the next question has to be, what can I do to increase my hydration level? There are many ways to do this: 1. eating your water - regenerative organic cucumber, celery, watermelon and high fiber fruits 2. short burst anaerobic exercise daily 3. drink unfiltered water from a local spring whenever possible 4. less direct exposure to technology - EMF blocking materials between your cellphone and your body, turn off wifi at night, etc.

Healthier Gut = Less Anxiety

That’s what it really comes down to. Your gut is key to your anxiety levels, and your anxiety levels can play a role in how your gut is functioning.

Diet and exercise are great for many reasons, but to truly support your gut health and restore your body to working order, a daily gut wellness routine that’s easier to follow than a workout schedule or specific food regime is also a good idea.

That’s where ION* Gut Support can play a starring role in giving your gut the boost it needs to function at its best.

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Not a probiotic, prebiotic, or other narrowly-focused supplement, ION* does what no other product can. It works differently because it is different. ION* is the only product that doesn’t add anything new to your body, but instead bolsters it, so you can thrive the way Mother Nature intended.

All-natural and scientifically proven to strengthen the gut lining2, ION* is a liquid wellness solution that’s easy to incorporate into any routine and gentle enough for the whole family. Simply by taking ION*, you can support healthy digestion (including better nutrient absorption), alleviate gluten sensitivity, and help your body defend itself via improved immune function.

ION* works by sealing cells in the gut lining, which not only helps keep toxins out, but also helps strengthen the terrain upon which your microbiome can diversify and flourish, aiding in better communication in the gut-brain axis and your body’s ability to regulate anxiety response.

Ready to try a natural way to help your anxiety? Why not start at your gut and help a whole host of other parts of your well-being at the same time? Try ION* Gut Support today.


Wilson, Debra, Slater, Rosie “Is there a link between gut health and anxiety?” Medical News Today.

Protective Effects of Lignite Extract Supplement on Intestinal Barrier Function in Glyphosate-Mediated Tight Junction Injury

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