Could anxiety be linked to gut bacteria


People who experience anxiety symptoms might be helped by taking steps to regulate the microorganisms in their gut using probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements, suggests a new review of 21 studies.*

“Scientists call the gut the ‘second brain’ because it is filled with neurotransmitters we usually associate with being in the brain. It has its own complex nervous system and also, just like your brain, produces serotonin, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. Our brain and gut are therefore intimately connected and that’s why they can affect each other so much – for example, anxiety gives most people butterflies in the stomach,” explains the UK’s leading Nutritionist, Dr Marilyn Glenville (

Therefore it makes complete sense to take into account our second brain, the gut, when it comes to our mental wellbeing and our experts are here to explain how we can do this…

Add a probiotic to your diet

Of the studies that had used probiotics as the intervention, more than a third (36%) found them to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.

Top Tip: Unlock Whole-Body Vitality with the Natures Plus GI Natural capsules (£23.75, contain probiotics as well as digestive enzymes, prebiotics and whole foods to support your gut health and second brain.

The long term goal

The remaining studies that had used non-probiotics and changed their diets, found an amazing 86% rate of effectiveness in reducing anxiety symptoms. Marilyn Glenville states, “all the food and drink that goes through your mouth has an effect on your body and mind. It will strengthen or weaken you; help or hinder; nourish or deplete. Food need not be your enemy – the right form is a valuable source.” Changing your diet altogether will have more of an impact on your gut Microbiome as a whole in comparison to introducing specific types of bacteria in a probiotic supplement – perhaps a combo of the both is the winner! For ways to change your diet for your body and mind get your hands on Marilyn’s latest book, Natural Alternatives to Dieting (£9.97, Amazon).

Change your response to the cause of anxiety

We can control how we respond to things we find challenging in our day-to-day life, so if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms of anxiety; “Anxiety can be experienced as a racing mind, an inability to slow down, feeling out of control with our thoughts or trouble staying on track and focusing. It can show up in our body as muscular tension, pain, jitteriness and difficulty relaxing. It affects our breathing, making it short, tight and held in the chest which has other knock on effects for mood, mental health, the nervous system and cardiac health.

Anxiety can also diminish our mood and energy levels, it can make us more prone to anger and reactivity, teariness and emotional sensitivity for some,” explains qualified psychologist, yoga teacher and health & fitness coach, Suzy Reading, working with ThinkWell-LiveWell. The Postcard to Anxiety module on the new mindfulness toolkit, ThinkWell LiveWell (RRP: £8.00 a month), can help you become aware and change your response to the cause of anxiety.