The next time you are down with the blues, don’t blame it on your job stress or a busy life, consider the gut-brain connection. Maybe you have not been nourishing the microbes in your digestive system. As crazy as it sounds, scientists have recently discovered strong brain-gut connection.

The microbes in your gut are engaged in a constant conversation with your mind. As a result, it could be affecting your emotions, moods and behaviour a great deal. In this article discover all about this brain-gut connection.

Healthy Gut – Healthy Mind

You are not all by yourself at all times! Your body is comprised of 100 trillion organisms that make your microbiome. In fact, 90% of the cells inside the body are bacterial cells and only 10% are your own human cells. So, this means that you are more bacteria than human!

And, that’s not all! Did you know that we have two brains? One in your head and one in your gut that is constantly referred to as the second brain. The gut has got its very own nervous system as well called the Enteric Nervous System or ENS that frequently sends signals to the brain via that Vagus Nerve.

The Vagus Nerve acts like a two-way busy lane that runs from the brain to the gut. Traffic is always moving up and down in both directions. The microbes that reside in your gut plays an integral role in directing the flow of traffic.

How the Brain-Gut Connection Affects your Mental Health

Now, here’s where things get fascinating! Since your microbes are sending so many signals to the brain, if your gut health is out of shape, they can send up faulty signals that can influence your brain in negative ways. Here’s how the belly controls your mental health:

1. Your Mood

How do you feel after having a hearty meal? Obviously it will have your energy levels up and also make you feel happy. Now what if you are hungry? That will make you grumpy and dull, isn’t it? The microorganisms inside the gut regulate the production of important brain neurotransmitters.

90% of the neurotransmitter called Serotonin is made in the gut inside enterochromaffin cells. This important neurotransmitter is responsible for key functions in the body including sleep, appetite, mood, pain sensitivity and more.

2. Depression and Anxiety

Other important neurotransmitters are that of Dopamine and GABA. These are also regulated by the gut microbiome. Dopamine helps regulate emotional responses, while GABA works to restore the fine balance of adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. High amounts of GABA is associated with feelings of being relaxed and happy, while low levels can lead to depression and anxiety.

3. Stress

Has stress ever messed with your insides? Feelings like butterfly or flutter in stomach under stressful situations are so common. This bears testimony to the connection between your gut and stress as the gut plays a central point of your immune system and regulates Cortisol – the stress hormone.

4. Brain Fog

Your gut and brain are actually originating from the same fetal tissue and so continue their special bond throughout your entire life. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that gut ailments like leaky gut syndrome can lead to a leaky brain as well.

Inside your belly, more than 4000 square feet of intestinal lining exist to control what gets absorbed into the blood stream. When there are large cracks or holes in that lining, toxins can enter your body leading to inflammation and changes to the gut flora.

As a result, the brain works extra hard to protect from inflammation and is exposed to inflammatory oxidative stress. This affects the brain’s hypothalamus and causes the dreaded brain fog.

Support your Friendly Microbes to Support your Brain

The gut-brain axis is an important communication barrier that relays signals about feelings to food through the vagus nerve. This pathway is spanned by a single synapse which is capable of relaying a signal from the gut to the brain as fast as 100 milliseconds. This connection can be used by gut pathogens to get access to the brain pathway.

The gut-brain connection should be used as an essential foundation to treat disorders like leaky gut, depression, autism, mental disorders and other chronic diseases. This is where a holistic approach to treating diseases is beneficial. Here are some ways you can support your gut to prioritize long term health and wellness:

1. Optimize your Diet

Eat a gut-friendly diet with an emphasis on a whole and plant-based foods rich in fiber. Concentrate on probiotics, prebiotics, and polyphenols that help to nourish your microbiome and help them thrive.

2. Make Movement a Priority

The research is clear – microbiomes are healthier and diverse in those who are physically active. It is important to move and exercise every day to make a difference to your microbial and brain health.

3. Say no to Antibiotics Whenever Possible

Antibiotics present in food and medicine are hazardous to your colonies of good bacteria and they tend to wipe out the good guys along with the bad ones.

4. Don’t be Afraid of a Little Dirt

Studies have shown that dirt is good for you as it can serve as a pathway of exposure to beneficial bacteria. So it is ok to play around a bit with soil, in a garden or in a farm. Gardening is indeed a great therapy!

Food for Thought

Adopt a healthy lifestyle to maintain a healthy gut and take a step in the right direction towards balanced moods and greater cognitive abilities. Explore the missing link of the brain-gut connection to help treat chronic disorders. Live in harmony with your microbes and stay healthy!

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