The Brain-Gut Connections
Have you heard about the gut-brain connection? Did you ever experience a gut-wrenching feeling? Or have some situations caused you to feel nauseated? Brain-gut connections are no joke. They can link mental health problems such as anxiety and depression to stomach problems and vice versa.
Your brain has a direct effect on your GI tract. A current study in the field of mental health concludes that mental health issues are associated with alterations in the gut microbiome. When the bacteria in the gut are out of balance, the immune system can overreact. As a result, your gut becomes inflamed and the symptoms develop throughout your body, including your brain. Researchers say that keeping the balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut helps improve symptoms of mental health issues.
What does your gut-brain control?
Your gut the “second brain” can operate on its own. It can communicate back and forth with your actual brain. That means to say they are connected. But unlike the big brain in your skull, your second brain can’t balance your checkbook or write a love letter. Its major role is to control digestion. This involves;
- Breaking down of foods with the help of different enzymes
- Regulating blood flows that aids in nutrient absorption and elimination.
Your second brain can also trigger big emotional shifts when you cope with health issues like IBS, IBD, and functional bowel problems like diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, gas, and bloating. These findings explain why people with functional bowel problems and IBS develop anxiety and depression. Given the connection between the two, it is apparent why you feel butterflies in your stomach right before a presentation. You feel pain in your stomach in times of stress.
How to manage your mental health through a healthy gut
Gut health is very important for several reasons. So, whether you are working towards improving your mental well-being or having a healthy gut, consider these suggestions below:
- Feed the good bacteria in your gut that will help them grow. Feed them with prebiotics. Prebiotics are foods for the good microbes in your gut. They are high in fiber, and they work best when they are raw. Try adding banana, asparagus, garlic, and onions into your everyday diet. Apples, berries, tomatoes, and mangoes are also an excellent source of prebiotics.
- Add probiotics into your gut to help repopulate the lost ones. Probiotics are living organisms found in foods and supplements. You can find them in yogurt, some dairy products, and fermented foods. You can also get probiotic supplements to easily repopulate the good bacteria. Pick the right brand with the right species or strain and CFUs for your needs.
- Revamp your diet. Avoid eating processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods and replace them with whole foods. Try to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids as they can help reduce inflammation and improve digestion.
- Do not take antibiotics unless necessary. Antibiotic kills bad bacteria, but they also kill the good ones.