There’s no doubt following social distancing guidelines when you and your family go outside is the smart and safe way to avoid the many health risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
But those guidelines don’t take into account the stress you’re feeling, whether you’re hunkered down for long periods of time with work-at-home responsibilities plus family responsibilities or not working at all.
We’ve talked a lot about the gut-brain axis, the connection between your brain, emotions and intestines.
If you’ve been doing a lot of stress eating lately, it could be a sign that your gut-brain axis needs some extra help to stay in balance and keep the weight off too.
Don’t fear, there’s many ways to rebalance your anxious gut-brain axis safely and gently, even in these stressful coronavirus times.
First, let’s take a look at how we got there.
Overeating processed foods
Consuming a typical Western diet full of processed, high-fat foods is a huge problem all by itself, which is often worsened by stress.
The more you eat, the more your gut produces higher levels of gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), a hormone that manages the balance of energy in your body.
Last year, Baylor College of Medicine researchers discovered this extra GIP that the gut produces travels through the bloodstream to the brain where it slows down the impact of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that promotes a feeling of fullness or satiety, in a series of tests on mice.
(Messing up your sleep cycle affects how your body produces leptin too.)
Baylor scientists recognized the gut-brain connection when they took steps to block the production of GIP which reduces the appetites and weights of mice fed high-fat diets.
But that’s not all…
Too much real sugar
You may also recall our warning about foods sweetened with real, refined sugar that can be just as harmful to your health as those containing artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t take much of the real thing to trigger sugar cravings either.
The average American consumes at least 66 pounds of real sugar, if not more, every year, fueling the epidemic of obesity and many more health problems.
Real sugar affects the brain in a unique way by signals traveling from the gut all the way to the brain via the vagus nerve, according to a very recent study on mice appearing in Nature.
It was really hard for Columbia University researchers to ignore the connection. When given the option of being fed water with artificial sweeteners or real sugar, mice gravitated to the real thing after only two days.
What’s more, scientists found that the gut-brain connection kicks into gear in the presence of glucose (often added to processed foods as dextrose and extracted from corn starch).
Rebalancing your anxious gut-brain axis
Depending on how the coronavirus outbreak is slowing down in your area (or not), getting back to a normal routine may take a while.
With this in mind, ask yourself these four questions each day to help make sure you’re maintaining your balance, mentally and physically.
- Are you taking breaks to exercise at home? At the very least, plan short walks outdoors (while practicing safe distancing).
- Are you reaching out to your family and friends for support? All of us need some extra love and attention right now.
- Are your sleep habits a real mess? Get back on a regular schedule!
- Are your eating habits in hibernation mode? You have a golden opportunity right now to clean up your diet and lose some extra pounds.
A very safe and healthy way to relieve those gut-brain blues and boost your immune system without a drug — taking a multi-strain probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria — is one of the best choices you can make.
And, if you need some extra help to lose a few pounds, you may want to consider EndoMune Metabolic Rescue with its proven formula of Bifidobacterium lactis and the prebiotic XOS that promotes a greater sense of fullness and healthier blood sugar levels too.
Journal of Clinical Investigation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of California at San Francisco/sugarscience