Looking after your gut health to look after your mental health
The trillions of microbes in our gut, known as the microbiome can influence our body weight, our response to infection, our immunity and our mood.
Our gut and brain were formed from the same foetal tissue in the womb, so they're forever linked through the gut-brain axis connection.
Some call our gut our second brain - and if you think about it our intestines sort of resemble the brain. And the trillions of microbes within our gut are influencing what’s going on in our overall wellness.
Interestingly, 95% of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin is made and stored in our guts and around 50% of dopamine too.
And our gut is home to around 75% of our immune system. So it doesn’t take a big leap to see how intrinsically our gut health and mental health is connected.
There’s growing scientific consensus that depression and anxiety disorders may be linked to elevated levels of inflammation and studies have also suggested that people with depression have a less diverse set of microbes, on average, compared with healthy individuals.
It’s no surprise that much of the same advice for a healthy gut is the same as advice to boost your mental wellbeing:
- Get regular exercise: Exercise is another important way to keep your gut healthy. It helps to promote good digestion and increases blood flow to the digestive tract. And we all know studies show exercise boosts happy hormones for mental wellness.
- Reduce stress: Stress is one of the biggest factors that can affect gut and brain health. Make sure to take some time out for yourself every day and practice some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.
- Avoid inflammation causing products: alcohol, highly processed grains, high sugar-content items - the more natural the better.
- Take a supplement: Beneficial bacteria can help to keep the gut microbiota balanced. You can find them in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, or you can take a supplement.
Simply put, a healthy gut can lead to a healthier brain. And vice versa!
If you're looking to improve your overall health, it's important to take care of your gut health to maintain good brain health.