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Low Gut Microbes Could Cause Anxiety and Stress

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/29/2024

While most people understand that having a healthy digestive tract is important for your well-being, not many understand just how far the influence of your gut reaches.

Learn about the gut-brain connection, how it affects your well-being, and what you can do to reduce stress and anxiety in your life.

The Gut-Brain Connection and its Impact on Mood

Your gut isn't just for digesting food; it's also a critical part of your brain. The bacteria living in our intestines, or gut microbiota, significantly impact mood disorders like anxiety and stress.

The good bacteria in the gut helps produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, known also as the feel-good hormone.

In fact, according to a study published in Cell Journal, about 90% of all serotonin is produced in the gut. But what happens when these beneficial bacteria go missing?

The Role of Microflora in Brain Chemistry

Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus are vital players in keeping brain chemistry balanced.

However, poor diet and antibiotics can cause problems with the chemical balance in your brain.

Neurotransmitters and the Gut

Serotonin isn’t alone; many other neurotransmitters are also connected to our digestive system, influencing our moods. Harvard Health Publishing explains, "Gastrointestinal ailments generate signals to the brain just as the brain can send signals to the gut."

Factors Disrupting Gut Microflora

Your gut is home to billions of bacteria known as microflora. But certain factors can disrupt its balance and function.

The Impact of Antibiotics on Gut Health

Antibiotics can be helpful in killing off strains of bad bacteria, but unfortunately it also kills off your gut's good bacteria in the process.

Studies have shown that antibiotic use can lead to long-term changes in the gut's microbial community structure, which may influence mood and cognitive functions.

Artificial Sweeteners, GMO Foods, and Gut Health

Artificial sweeteners and GMO foods can also negatively alter the composition of gut microflora.

This means that poor dietary choices could potentially cause harm to your mental health.

The Benefits of Probiotics for Gut Health

Taking probiotics can be one way to give your gut the help it needs. These beneficial bacteria help restore balance in the gut.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter influencing the state of mind, is delivered in our guts by as much as 95%. Caring for our digestive system is thus linked to tending to our emotional health as well.

Fermented Vegetables and Their Role in Gut Health

Fermented vegetables like kimchi or sauerkraut are also powerful tools for improving gut health.

Fermented veggies are rich sources of natural probiotics that support good digestion and overall well-being.

Long-Term Consequences of Laxative Use

The regular consumption of laxatives can result in some unexpected and unpleasant outcomes. Let's break it down.

Over time, your gut might rely on these aids for regular bowel movements. Using laxatives over a prolonged time can disrupt the normal functioning of your digestive system, leading to laxative dependency.

Continuing to rely on laxatives for extended periods can have an impact on our mental health, not just physical discomfort or inconvenience. Our intestines are inhabited by billions of microorganisms that play an essential part in digestion and controlling our emotions.

A healthy balance of this gut microflora helps us produce serotonin - the 'happy' hormone. But when we throw off this balance with persistent laxative use, we risk messing up our brain chemistry, too.

This imbalance may contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and stress due to decreased serotonin production in the gut. A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine supports this link between disrupted gut health and psychological issues.

Avoiding Factors that Destroy Microflora

Protecting your gut health requires avoiding certain factors known to harm microflora. The usual suspects include antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, and GMO foods.

Conscious Consumption for Gut Health

Antibiotics may be beneficial, but they can also eradicate the helpful bacteria in our digestive systems. If you need them, make sure to replenish them with probiotics afterward.

Despite their zero-calorie appeal, artificial sweeteners may disrupt the balance of your gut flora, too.

GMO foods are also bad for our guts, causing imbalance and depleting good bacteria.

To keep it simple, choose natural sugars over artificial ones; opt for organic instead of genetically modified grub, and follow up with probiotic-rich food or supplements if antibiotics are necessary.

Probiotic foods

Probiotics and Gut-Brain

The connection between probiotics and the gut-brain axis has recently gained significant attention. Emerging research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome, supported by probiotics, may play a role in influencing mood, emotions, and cognitive function.

This intricate relationship between the gut and the brain is often called the "gut-brain connection." Probiotics can help maintain a balanced gut microbiome, potentially positively affecting mental well-being.

While probiotics can contribute to gut-brain health, it's important to note that their effectiveness depends on various factors, including the specific strains used, individual responses, and overall lifestyle.

Regarding whether or not probiotics need to be refrigerated, the answer varies depending on the product and manufacturer's instructions.

Some probiotics are heat-stable and do not require refrigeration, while others may benefit from being kept in the fridge to prolong their shelf life and maintain their potency.

It's essential to read the label or consult the product packaging to determine the specific storage requirements for your probiotic to ensure its effectiveness in promoting a healthy gut-brain connection.


The profound connection between our gut and brain influences not just digestion but also mood and mental well-being.

Beneficial gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, crucial for emotional balance.

Disruptors such as antibiotics and artificial sweeteners can harm this balance, leading to mood disorders. Prioritizing gut health through probiotics and mindful eating choices supports a thriving gut microbiome, reducing stress and anxiety for a happier, healthier life.

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