I want you to take a second and think of the last time you felt nervous, scared or anxious. Were you mindful of the telltale symptoms of such emotions? Feeling ‘butterflies’ in your stomach much? That’s right, just as the brain can send signals to the gut, the gut can send signals to the brain as well. It’s a bidirectional relationship.
The brain and gut are connected via the Enteric Nervous System – a part of the central nervous system responsible for the functioning of the gastrointestinal system. Indeed, the gut has profound effects on the brain that some neuroscientists refer to this system as the ‘second brain’.
Through sound dietary practices that improve gut health, not only will you feel great, but your perception of the world can change – thinking more clearly and painting life in a positive light. It’s true. Your mood, mental state, emotions and behavior can be influenced by your gut health and the type of microbiota (bacteria) present.
Here’s an interesting statistic. In 2015, A Cell Journal study found that roughly 90% of our body’s serotonin is found in the gut. A poor gut may cause a lack of serotonin production and lead to certain diseases such as leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome. With this come mental health issues including autism, anxiety and depression.
Studies have shown that subjects who suffered from gastrointestinal issues were better off when receiving psychological treatment as opposed to medical treatment. The opposite applies as well. Poor gut health has been implicated in psychological and neurological disorders.
Your brain will show great signs of gratitude by eating the right foods and taking supplements which protect and heal the gut. Not only do the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut provide healing and protective effects to the brain, but the digestion and processing ability of foods can have positive implications to the brain. The more able your gut is to digest food and absorb vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, the better your brain will function. A healthy gut is a happy brain.
It is evident that our gut and mental health go hand in hand. Improving our dietary practices and lifestyle in general deems the most effective way to improve our gut health. It is no surprise the great value placed on our gut health to improve our well-being and so it is our responsibility to take care of our own body and health in order to feel and be great.