A Healthy Gut Is Key To Your Mental Well Being

The brain in your gut has an incredible influence over the one in your head. Relationships, self-esteem and brain chemistry all play a key role in your mental health. But beyond this, the microbial activity in your gut and its sophisticated neural network that transmits messages from trillions of bacteria impacts your mental wellbeing every day. Since the start of the Human Microbiome Project over 12 years ago, researchers have identified two million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome. These bacteria regulate the process nutrients, immune system, tackle infections and make neurochemicals that affect brain function. But your microbiome does more. It is thought to what guides and supports your mental state and behavior. 

Gut healthy fruits and veggies

Gut Bacteria Affects Mood

Your gut bacteria can impact how you feel mentally. Microorganisms in the gut secrete chemicals that are the same substances used by the neurons to regulate mood such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine contributes to the regulating movement and emotional responses. Serotonin supports feelings of happiness and wellbeing along with regulating the body’s internal clock. GABA’s function is to reduce high levels of dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline. High quantities of GABA can make a person feel very calm and happy, while low levels can result in feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. Good gut health helps to create the right balance of neurotransmitters that you need to maintain a positive mood.

Link Between Brain And Gut

There isn’t a direct connection between the brain and stomach, but just as the brain sends messages to the body, the stomach does send key messages to the brain. If the microbiome is out of balance and the neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that contribute to determining how you feel every day aren’t produced effectively, your mental health could be affected. A study into the gut-brain connection found that a healthy microbiome decreases inflammation throughout the body and can lead to not just a healthier mind and body. A healthier mind can enable a person to have the strength to deal with stressful situations as they arise. A study in Norway looked at bacteria from 55 people and found that some bacteria could be linked with depressive patients. Meanwhile, a study on mice found that when they consumed a healthy, bacteria-rich diet, they were able to swim longer and spend less time inactive. The study found that good bacteria changed the neural chemistry of the mice which suggests gut health can contribute to managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

A Varied Diet Supports Mental Health

Brain fog is mental fatigue. It’s when instead of feeling sharp and alert, you feel like you are walking through a thick fog, perhaps you lose concentration or you feel like you can’t keep up with the world around you. Gut problems can lead to this feeling of fogginess, particularly conditions like leaky gut syndrome. This is where large holes or cracks form in the gut lining and let toxins and digested foods escape. This can lead to changes in the gut flora and inflammation. Brain fog is often as a result of your brain’s immune system working overtime to protect it. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet can help to repair the gut lining and help you to restore the health of your gut and microbiome. The more variety in your diet, which ideally includes plenty of fiber, lean protein, avocado and seeds, then the more variety there is likely to be in your gut flora. This variedness results in lower inflammation which can lead to reduced anxiety and negative thoughts. 

A healthy lifestyle and a good varied diet will do much more than just keep your body fit healthy. A balanced and healthy gut will help to keep your brain healthy and positive and lower your risk of stress, anxiety and depression.

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