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Why Gut Health Is Important For Mental Health

Do you ever feel like your mood is all over the place? Or, are your emotions a bit harder to regulate than normal? It’s possible that your gut health is not as good as it should be. Believe it or not, studies have shown a direct correlation between gut health and mental health. 

Don’t worry, you’re not crazy – there’s a scientific explanation for it! Read on to learn more about the link between gut health and mental health, and find out how you can improve your gut health to help improve your mood.

What Is The Gut-Brain Axis

If you’ve ever experienced ‘butterflies’ when you see someone you like or lack appetite due to stress, you’re probably aware of the connection between your mind and gut. 

The gut-brain axis is a communication system between the gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Think of this system as the “phone line” between your gut and your brain. It’s how they talk. It’s also a very complex network that may be quickly disturbed by various circumstances, including environmental pollutants, stress, and even antibiotics.

The question is, how does the brain-gut axis really work? To begin, let’s take a closer look at the various components of the system.

The Vagus Nerve

The Vagus nerve is the body’s longest nerve. It originates at the base of the skull or brain stem and extends to the gut. It sends information from the internal organs to the brain. In addition, it is the main part of the nervous system that helps control many bodily functions. This includes mood, how well your immune system works, how you digest food and your heart rate. 

The Vagus nerve is important because it helps control the body’s response to danger. It can either calm the body down or make it ready to fight. Sometimes, this nerve can get stuck in the “fight or flight” mode, and it’s not good for you. When the Vagus nerve isn’t working right, it can cause digestive issues, hormone imbalances, and chronic diseases.

The Gut Microbiome

The microbiota of the gut plays a critical role in this gut-brain communication. Moreover, the microbiome is composed of billions of bacteria living both within and outside our bodies. The gut bacteria contribute to the regulation of the gut-brain axis’s activity.

The development of the gut microbiota occurs simultaneously with the nervous system. Hence, it has a strong impact on various distinct mental processes. Moreover, dysbiosis, or imbalanced gut microbiota, may have a substantial role in many mental and neurological illnesses.

Dysbiosis disrupts the gut-brain axis, causing the natural wall between the nervous system and circulatory system to be more permeable. When the blood-brain barrier is compromised, brain inflammation may occur. 

Mental Health And Gut-Brain Axis: What’s The Connection

Pay close attention to your gut-brain link since it might be contributing to your anxiety and digestive issues. Gut and intestinal functions are directly influenced by the brain. For instance, the mere notion of eating might cause the stomach’s fluids to be released before the food is actually consumed. This relationship goes both ways.

A malfunctioning intestine may transmit messages to the nervous system, just as a dysfunctional brain can transmit impulses to the intestine. Consequently, stomach or intestinal trouble might be the result of anxiety or stress in a particular individual. This is due to the fact that the brain and gastrointestinal system are inextricably linked.

Moreover, in some cases, people who suffer from gastrointestinal issues may not show any other physical signs or symptoms. The reason might be an unforeseen result of their mental health. Thus, attempting to boost gut health may be challenging because stress and anxiety have a detrimental effect on an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing.

How To Boost Your Microbiome

There are trillions of bacteria in your gut that make up your microbiome. Having a well-balanced microbiome not only improves your mental well-being but may also help you avoid overeating and keep your digestive tract in check.

We’ve put up a list of tips below to help you maintain a balanced microbiome.

  1. Eat Your Vegetables

Strengthening the gut microbiome begins with supplying nutrition to the microbes. Vegetables provide the most nutrients necessary for a healthy gut. Their high fiber content encourages the development of good gut bacteria, particularly specific kinds like the Bifidobacteria, which are good for the digestive system.

Some high-fiber vegetables that are beneficial to your gut microbes include the following:

  • Artichokes
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Onions

Be sure to include these healthy vegetables in your diet. 

  1. Eat Less Sugar

Our gut bacteria are responsible for many vital functions in our bodies, including breaking down food and producing vitamins and other nutrients. Sugary foods can disrupt the balance of this community of microbes, leading to adverse health effects.

To keep your microbiome healthy, choose low-sugar foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods with lots of added sugar or sweetener and stick to naturally sweet treats like fruit instead. You can also try fermenting your own vegetables at home to boost your friendly bacteria!

Additionally, watch out for hidden forms of simple sugars. Sugar may find its way into products that you would never suspect. Always check the sugar content of your favorite drinks, energy bars, condiments, and even your favorite yogurt!

  1. Consume Probiotic Foods

Probiotics are packed with live bacteria that may help fill your gut with beneficial strains. However, there are other probiotic products on the market that falsely claim to contain live cultures. Therefore, it’s necessary to do research and consult with a qualified dietitian or other health care expert before picking a probiotic that is best for you.

  1. Avoid Antibiotics

An antibiotic is the deadliest enemy of a probiotic-loving digestive system. Antibiotics function by killing all bacteria, which causes them to be very successful at managing infections. But, this also makes them extremely detrimental to your microbiome. 

If you must take antibiotics, eat a lot of probiotic-rich foods afterward to help restore your digestive system. You can also take probiotic supplements, but be sure to check with your doctor first to make sure they’re right for you.

  1. Fermented Foods Are Gut-Friendly

Fermented foods are also beneficial for your microbiome because they contain good bacteria that help improve digestion. In fact, many fermented foods actually contain strains of probiotics that you can’t find in supplements or other foods. Examples of fermented foods include kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough rest is crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced microbiome. Your body’s circadian rhythms are responsible for regulating many important processes, including the activity of your gut bacteria. When you don’t get enough sleep, this can throw off these rhythms and disrupt your gut health.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it can also be beneficial for your gut microbiome. When you exercise regularly, your body produces certain hormones that help keep your microbiome in balance.

If you are looking to boost your microbiome, be sure to make exercise a regular part of your routine. Whether it’s taking a brisk walk at lunchtime or heading to the gym after work, there are many ways to get moving and enjoy the benefits of a healthy microbiome.

  1. Make Time For Yourself

Making time for yourself is one of the most important things that you can do to help support your gut health and wellbeing. A healthy microbiome requires a delicate balance of physical, mental, and emotional stimulation in order to thrive.

When your life becomes too hectic, and out of balance, it can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. And research has shown that these emotions can have negative effects on your gut health. 

Bottom Line

So, the next time you’re feeling a little blue, consider your gut health. It just might be the key to lifting your mood and getting you back on track. Taking care of your gut health is important for maintaining a healthy mind and body. By eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly, you can help keep your gut bacteria in balance and improve your overall well being. 

If you need help getting started on improving your gut health, contact us today! Our team of experts can help you create a plan that fits your needs and helps you achieve better gut health. 

Hi! I’m Dr. E, The NP with a PHD. Several years ago, my wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and the only options given to us were heavy duty medications.

We KNEW there had to be a better way. After a long search, we discovered functional medicine.

With functional medicine we found alternative ways we were able to manage her disease and get her back to feeling like her old self.

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Functional medicine drastically changed our lives and using it I developed The KNEW Method to help others who are suffering or not feeling optimal.

Let’s work together to get you to feeling like your old self again.

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