Navigating through the supplements section of your favourite Health Food Store can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You’ve tried laxatives for constipation, digestive enzymes and probiotics for gas and bloating, apple cider vinegar for all the weight you’ve gained, eliminated gluten and dairy, fasted…but nothing has really made a significant impact on your gut health.
Have you considered stress as a factor? Our gut contains roughly 100 million nerves which has earned itself the name, “Second Brain” (1). It’s no wonder our emotions can trigger digestive symptoms such as cramps, diarrhea, feelings of “knots, butterflies & lump in the throat”, constipation, overeating, inflammation and more. The same is true if we look at the opposite. Chronic digestive complaints can trigger symptoms of anxiety, sleep disturbances and even depression. This two-way communication is known as the “gut-brain-axis.”
According to The American Psychological Association, the gut is known to produce almost 95% of our serotonin (2). Serotonin is considered to be both a hormone and neurotransmitter which helps to regulate mood, sleep patterns, feelings of happiness and sexual desires. It’s also known to play a vital role in bowel health, such as motility, mucus and fluid secretion, and pain sensations. Too little serotonin is known to cause symptoms of depression, anxiety, PMS, addictive behaviours, and even pain. The same holds true when the body has too much. An overabundance of serotonin can trigger severe physical symptoms such as agitation, restlessness, sweating, twitching and diarrhea. Stress not only changes the secretion of serotonin in the brain, but also in the gut.
When trying to ease digestive complaints, incorporate stress-reducing activities to your daily routine, such as yoga, deep breathing, prayer or meditation. Eliminating caffeine, refined sugars, stimulants and alcohol can also improve both brain health and the gut microbiome immensely.
The delicate connection between the gut and brain is so intricately intertwined that nourishing one without the other would be futile. The addition of stress-reducing herbal supplements like Veeva Stress Formula to your digestive care routine will create a favorable environment for the gut microbiome by helping to promote relaxation, increasing resistance to stress, decreasing mental and physical fatigue, helping support cognitive function and promoting restful sleep.
This article was written by Veeva’s Chief Scientific Advisor for Optimum Health Vitamins