When feeling anxious, many of us experience discomfort in our stomach region. We may have other responses such as rapid heart rate, tightness of the chest, headaches, or tight muscles. But our “second brain,” as some call the gastrointestinal tract, is where the majority of people experience anxiety and stress. In fact most of our neurotransmitters, which regulate our mood and many other aspects, such as hormonal balance, are produced in the digestive system. In fact, greater than 95% of serotonin is produced and stored in the gut, so it makes sense that mental health imbalances may actually be digestive imbalances. Recent studies indicate that healthy bacteria, or probiotics, directly affect mood through increasing production of serotonin and GABA. Alternatively, "bad" bacteria can reduce these and other neurotransmitter levels and activate or exacerbate anxiety and fear. It is important therefore, to have high numbers of "good" bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract–the same good bacteria that are decimated by a poor diet or antibiotic use. Lactobacilli bacteria release tryptophan, which is transformed into serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter. Taking an appropriate probiotic and– just as important– eating a gut-healthy diet and having optimal digestive processes, can reduce anxiety and stress and increase overall wellness.