Strangely, The Way To Happiness Is Through the Gut

There are many old sayings that suggest a strong connection between the stomach and the brain. For example, “butterflies in your stomach” is used when someone is nervous. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” ties the emotion of love with eating. Plus, many people get anxious or grumpy when they get hungry.

Modern research confirms that there is a very strong link between the brain and the gut. For example, the network of nerves in the gut is the second largest in the body (coming in just behind the brain). The main brain chemical attributed to happiness (serotonin) is also one of the most important hormones in the stomach. But enough of the science, what does this mean for real people?

How Can I Improve My Mood?
When I work with patients with anxiety, depression, or any mood problem, I always start with improving gut function. And the starting point for improving gut function is improving the diet. For example, people with anxiety are often very sensitive to sugars (including the artificial sweetener aspartame) and caffeine. Ensuring adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals is also a goal of setting up a therapeutic diet.

Once we have established a good diet, it is time to start thinking about the need to boost key nutrient levels with quality supplements. A bit of extra magnesium or a quality vitamin B complex can do wonders. In fact, the combination of magnesium and B vitamins often works best.

Anxiety Superstar:
One “superstar” nutrient that has helped a lot of people with anxiety is l-theanine. L-Theanine is normally found in protein. Taken in the right dose, theanine can work wonders to reduce anxiety. It works by helping the brain to release relaxing alpha waves. But unlike many of the drugs that are used to treat anxiety, theanine does not cause drowsiness. In fact, studies have shown that theanine can improve alertness and concentration. Now that is cool!

I had a patient last year who was recommended to get NAC by her specialist. When she came in, she was in a very bad state and could hardly focus enough to communicate what she wanted. To be honest, I was very worried about her state of mind. I recommended that we combine NAC with theanine for best results. She came back in 3 days later to get a prescription for her daughter, and I nearly didn’t recognize her. She was calm and back in control of her anxiety. All this within 3 days!

I like that theanine is not addictive and works fast. So it can be used regularly to keep anxiety at bay, or it can be used only when needed. This can give you great relief while you fix your gut function, and restore optimal health.