Your intestines house over 500 different species of bacteria.
These bacteria are referred to collectively as your intestinal flora, microbiome, or microbiota and they have a profound impact on your brain and mood.
They are responsible for making over 30 neurotransmitters including mood-elevating serotonin and relaxing GABA.
Practicing neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter reveals in his book Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain — for Life how a dysfunctional microbiome can be the root cause of anxiety, depression, and other brain-related disorders.
To make sure the new bacteria from your probiotic supplement flourish, eat plenty of prebiotic foods such as asparagus, bananas, barley, leeks, garlic, jicama, lentils, mustard greens, onions, and tomatoes.
Prebiotic foods give the good bacteria something to feed on and are essential for maintaining a healthy microbiome.
Interestingly, prebiotic foods alone have been found to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s an essential building block of the mood-elevating brain chemical serotonin.
Tryptophan is readily found in protein-rich foods but due to a biological quirk, very little dietary tryptophan is available for serotonin synthesis in the brain — only about 1%.
For this reason, taking supplemental tryptophan works better for raising serotonin than relying on food.
Tryptophan has been found useful for reducing general anxiety, social anxiety disorder, and panic attacks.
Studies have found it to be as effective for depression as antidepressant drugs.
Insomnia is a common problem for anyone with anxiety.
Tryptophan is also a building block of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Thus, tryptophan can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and awake less often in the night.
You may be familiar with taurine as an ingredient found in energy drinks.
Taurine is an amino acid found in high concentrations in the brain, where it acts very much like the neurotransmitter GABA.
Taurine activates GABA receptors and stimulates the release and formation of GABA.
If you are looking for a remedy for low- related symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and an overstimulated mind, taurine is an excellent substitute for supplements which don’t work well for everyone.
A major problem with taking GABA directly is that it is structurally too large a compound to pass through the brain’s filtering system and into the brain.
There are several theories as to why GABA supplements work some of the time in spite of this.
It’s suspected that there are unknown mechanisms at work or that certain areas of the brain allow GABA to enter.
A widely accepted explanation is that GABA supplements work only for those who have a leaky blood-brain barrier.
Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how and if GABA supplements work.
You can give GABA a try to see if it helps you, but we recommend taurine which is more reliably effective.
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” since your skin creates it when exposed to the sun.
Between spending time indoors and wearing sunscreen when we are outside, vitamin D deficiency affects 75% of us.
Vitamin D can help with anxiety and depression associated with fibromyalgia.
Low vitamin D may, in part, be responsible for the anxiety and depression people experience from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Unless you live in a year-round warm and sunny climate, you can almost certainly benefit from vitamin D supplements.
This is particularly true if your anxiety gets worse during the winter.