WHY DO I FEEL LIKE SH*T: how your digestive tract effects your mood.

Did you know your digestive system could be doing more than making you sick and fat? It could also be making you feel emotionally unstable and contributing to your feelings of unworthiness.

 If you have any type of health concerns, are overweight, tired, anxious or depressed often it might be a sign that your digestive system needs attention. Our brain and digestive system are very intimately connected, when one is off the whole system can be thrown off.

It is why many of us feel the need to go to the bathroom when we get nervous. When we are anxious about something are brain sends a signal to our digestive tract that causes the colon to contract. However, reactions can happen due to the effects of our colons and could be a reason you may be feeling blue and unable to shake it.

Recent studies have shown that inflammation may be involved in depression. In fact, some research has demonstrated that depression is frequently associated with gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases as well as with other ailments in which chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor.

"... [A]n increasing number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammations with probiotics, vitamin B, D and omega 3 fatty acids, through attenuating pro-inflammatory stimuli to brain, may also improve depression symptoms and quality of life. All these findings justify an assumption that treating gastrointestinal inflammations may improve the efficacy of the currently used treatment modalities of depression and related diseases."  Dr. Mercolawww.mercola.com

Here are some of the most common digestive problems and tips and some natural ways to solve them. By solving these problems and having a digestive system that is regular you can eliminate the toxins that affect your emotional center. You will begin to have the clarity of mind to move forward in your life with a stronger more positive mental attitude, and as we know, the mood you’re in reflects the life you’re in.

INDIGESTION, ACID REFLUX AND HEARTBURN

Increased acid levels will have you suffering from heartburn, acid reflux, bloating and indigestion. Over the counter acid reducing remedies may seem like an instant fix, but they can create more long-term problems than solutions. OTC antacids can create a greater imbalance in your system and increase the risk of ulcers or pancreatic or gastric cancer.

A better way to deal with these symptoms is with natural products. Look for products that contain slippery elm, marshmallow or plantain. These herbs coat and heal the digestive tract. They can be found in capsule form at many stores.

You can also use baking soda. A small teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water,  known scientifically as sodium bicarbonate, is an inexpensive and effective home remedy that you can use to control occasional indigestion or heartburn. If you're on a sodium-restricted diet, consult your doctor before using.

GAS AND BLOATING

The first step to eliminating gas and bloating is to remove trigger foods from your diet. Foods such as baked beans, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, carbonated drinks, hard candies and chewing gum are common culprits.

Add a good probiotic to your diet by eating yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese. Make sure you buy a kind that contains live, active cultures. You can also buy probiotic liquids in the refrigerated area of most healthy living food stores. Drinking Kefir or adding miso paste to soups, stews and casseroles can also help.

One of my daily and all time favorites is Raw Apple Cider vinegar. I recommend it to my clients and drink apple cider vinegar daily for several reasons, including detoxification, helping my body more easily digest foods, weight maintenance and for a quick burst of energy before my kickboxing workouts. I can’t express enough the magic of this liquid. I buy Bragg Organic, however I’m sure there are various brand available, just make sure that it’s raw and not just plain ‘ole apple cider vinegar.

CONSTIPATION

This is many people’s number one culprit and most common sign that your digestive tract is not working properly. One of these biggest contributing factors to constipation is stress. Other factors may include not drinking enough water, eating too much dairy or, even worse, too much sugar, medications, and even traveling.

The best way to deal with constipation is too drink, drink, drink, water. Most people say 8 glasses a day but a better way to figure out enough water for your best consumption is:

Your weight: The first step to knowing how much water to drink everyday is to know your weight. The amount of water a person drinks varies depending on their weight.

Multiply by 2/3: Next you want to multiple your weight by 2/3 (or 67%) to determine how much water to drink daily. For example, if you weigh 175 pounds you would multiple that by 2/3(or 67%) and you would see that drinking about 117 ounces of water every day would be best for you.

Activity Level: Finally you want to adjust the above equation based on how often you workout. It is best to add 12 ounces of water to your daily total for every 30 minutes that you workout. So if you workout for 45 minutes daily, you would add 18 ounces of water to your daily intake.

Staying hydrated also supports your mood, gives you more energy and even adds a glow to your skin. If you’re having a sluggish day full of negative thoughts drink some water!

Other things to do in the case of constipation is eat less sugar and complex carbohydrates, and up your intake of green foods, whether you eat them, juice them or buy them in a powder form to put in juice. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but try and reduce the number of caffeinated and alcoholic drinks you consume.

FOOD AND EXERCISE

Take care of your body by getting enough sleep and exercise. Exercise helps tone your muscles and releases endorphin in the brain creating a positive mental state. Do some kind of physical activity every day if you can: walking, playing with your dog, aerobics or even household chores like, sweeping or gardening, all count as a form of exercise.

When I’m stuck at my desk all day, I will get up every couple of hours and do 100 jumping jacks. May look silly, but it helps to get my heart rate up, and the oxygen flowing back to my brain and it brings me back into a creative positive state.

Choose healthy whole food meals and stay away from fast foods. I know we all live in a very busy world and it is so tempting to grab our meals everyday going past a drive-thu window, asking for a happy meal, that actually does just the opposite.  I know sometimes time and money play a factor in our decisions, but sometime it can just be a habit that needs breaking.

“A study found that people who consume fast food even once a week increase their risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 20 percent in comparison to people who avoid fast food. For people eating fast food two-three times each week, the risk increases by 50 percent, and the risk climbs to nearly 80 percent for people who consume fast food items four or more times each week. Eating fast food two or more times a week was also found to increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 27 percent.” www.sciencedaily.com

Your meals should be well balanced and proportionately sized. If you’re on the go try and find a “mom and pop” food joints or go to your local deli. Try and be conscious of eating in a wide variety of foods that include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole-grains, beans, nuts  and fish that promote intestinal, as well as, mental health.

MEDICAL HEALTH

Lastly, heal and protect your stomach lining by taking omega-3, glutamine and zinc supplements daily. Get your blood work done once a year to make sure you are not deficient in vitamins or thyroid related issues. If you’re over 50 make sure you get your regular colonoscopy done along with regular medical checkups and screenings.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH

Slow it all down as best you can. Take time to enjoy your food; savor every bite.  Take 10-15 minutes a day to quite your mind and focus on the things you can be grateful for in this moment. Find your inner smile at some point during the day, even if it’s just for a second and make sure you hug at least one person every day.

When we hug, we reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol, produced in our bodies. Hugs also make our bodies release tension and send calming messages to the brain that elevate our mood.

Your digestive system is a hard working part of your body. It converts food into energy and nourishes it so the body can build, repair or maintain itself. When it’s not at its best, your body feels it in the form of heartburn, gas, or constipation. Your mind feels in the form of depression, anxiety and moodiness. If life is bringing you down, it could be a sign that your digestive system is in need of some simple lifestyle changes.