What is the Link Between Anxiety and Gut Health?

anxietyguthealth

When it comes to your mental wellbeing, your gut may play a much bigger role than you think. Research is now suggesting that there can be a very strong link between your gut and your brain, to the extent that your chances of developing anxiety or depression may  be heavily influenced by the health of your gut. Here’s what to know about the connection between your mental health and what’s going on in your gut.

Stress and Your Gut

The gut is heavily linked to your emotions and no doubt you have personal experience of this. We’ve all felt sensations such as nervous butterflies in the stomach or feeling sick when we’re anxious, which is physical evidence of the connection between your mind and your gut.

Stress can physically affect the gut in other ways too, including how it works. It can encourage the walls of the gut to contract, which can be a factor in bowel movements – especially diarrhoea. Stress can cause food to move through the digestive system more quickly than it would otherwise do and this can result in loose stools and frequent bowel movements.

Studies have also suggested that people with GI disorders are sometimes able to improve their symptoms if they receive psychological therapies to help them to manage stress and anxiety, and often see a better response compared to people who are only receiving “conventional” treatment.

What Science Says

Studies on mice carried out by University College Cork showed a strong connection between gut microbes and mental health. In particular, low levels of microbes in the gut were linked to depression and anxiety. The mice who were bred to be “microbe free” were a lot more anxious than the mice who had higher levels of microbes in their gut.

The theory is that microbes in the gut have an impact on key areas of the brain, notably the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala. Both of these areas are linked to anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.

Probiotics have also been the focus of some studies, with research suggesting that probiotics could even work as well as Diazepam and Citalopram in improving mental health and reducing anxiety.

How to Improve Your Gut Health

So, what can you do to get a healthier gut environment and help to improve your mental health?

Probiotics are a great place to start. According to some studies, they can reduce anxiety so it’s definitely worth increasing your intake or starting to take them for the first time if you suffer from anxiety. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt are examples of how you can add probiotics to your diet or you can try probiotic drinks if you prefer.

Prebiotics are another smart move. They aren’t quite the same as probiotics but they’re just as important – perhaps more so given that they help probiotics to work more effectively.

There is still a lot for us to know about the gut-brain connection but the evidence so far strongly suggests that your gut health can have an effect on how likely you are to experience anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. Improving your gut health can potentially do more than just improve your digestive health and can also have a knock on effect for your mental health too!

 

What Are the Different Types of Psoriasis?

different types of psoriasis

Psoriasis is essentially an autoimmune condition that develops when your immune system encourages your body to produce new skin cells far more quickly than normal.

Psoriasis is a bit of a “catch all” term as there are actually a few different types of psoriasis that can have their own set of symptoms. This means you can have an entirely different experience of psoriasis compared to someone else who also has the condition, depending on which type you have. It’s also possible to have more than one type of psoriasis at the same time.

Plaque Psoriasis

This is the most common type of psoriasis and shows itself in some of the more traditional symptoms of the condition. This includes red, raised patches of red skin topped with a build up of silver-white scales due to an excess of dead skin cells.

It can often appear on the scalp but it can also develop on other parts of the body too.

It is usually itchy but can also be painful and sore and make the skin crack and even bleed.

Treatment for plaque psoriasis generally involves topical treatments to remove build up of scales and reduce the redness underneath. On the scalp, this can include shampoos containing a combination of coal tar and coconut oil. Elsewhere on the body, corticosteroids may be prescribed, along with treatments that suppress the immune system and reduce the number of skin cells being produced.

Guttate Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis is fairly common in children and young adults and can develop after a bout of strep throat or another infection or illness. It is one of the most common forms of psoriasis after plaque psoriasis.

It is characterised by small, drop or dot shaped lesions. There can be scales on top of these but the end result isn’t as thick or raised up as plaque psoriasis. These symptoms can sometimes disappear as quickly as they developed but they can also come and go in much the same way as most psoriasis types.

Treatments for guttate psoriasis can include topical creams (that sometimes contain steroids), corticosteroids and immune suppressants.

Inverse Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis crops up most commonly in skin folds such as the groin, the underarms and underneath the breasts. Inverse psoriasis tends to be shiny and smooth in its appearance, unlike most other forms of the condition. Another difference is the fact that inverse psoriasis tends not to be dry or raised up in its texture; instead, it is usually moist.

It can accompany other types of psoriasis so you may find that you have it in skin folds and also have another form somewhere else on your body.

Topical creams can be used to tackle inflammation and irritation but treating inverse psoriasis can be tricky given the sensitive nature of some of the areas it develops in. Steroid creams can be a problem for longer term use as they can thin the skin. Other options include treatments that stop the immune system paving the way for psoriasis symptoms and phototherapy (with ultraviolet light) for more severe cases.

Pustular Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis presents itself in the form of pus-filled blisters surrounded by areas of red skin, often on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Although it looks nasty, it’s not contagious. The blisters are actually thought to be filled with white blood cells rather than anything that can be infectious.

Treatment for pustular psoriasis can include topical treatments, phototherapy (with ultraviolet light) and sometimes, immune suppressants.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

This is one of the least common types of psoriasis but it’s by far the most severe kind. It can affect large areas (potentially most of the body) and has an intensely red and fiery look. It tends to be very itchy and can also be seriously painful too. The skin can actually peel off, which is an indication of just how serious this form of psoriasis can be.

If you think you might have developed it, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible as it can potentially be life threatening.

.