Unraveling the Interdependence of Gut and Mental Health: What Do We Know So Far?
Did you know there’s a second brain hidden in the walls of your digestive system…your gut?
This “second brain” can communicate with your actual brain and vice versa.
For instance…your gut signals your mind how hungry you are or when you should stop eating.
Your brain also talks to your gut, so you can feel emotions in your gut, like feeling ‘butterflies’ before an exciting event.
And this is important to understand because…
This discovery suggests that digestive disorders increase the risk of mental health disorders.
It is seen that people with IBS or leaky gut are more prone to anxiety and depression.
However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Taking care of your gut allows you to improve your mental health.
Let’s learn more about this gut-brain connection and how you can use this to your advantage.
How Do Your Gut And Brain “Talk”?
The gut-brain axis facilitates communication between your mind and intestines. It’s a pathway that lets your mind know what’s going on with your gut and vice versa.
Your gut-brain axis (GBA) involves:
- Chemicals, aka neurotransmitters that regulate your mood
- Your nervous system
- Gut microbiome
Your brain and gut microbes produce chemicals that control your emotions and feelings.
For instance, 90% of serotonin, a chemical associated with happy feelings, is produced in your intestines. Microbes can also make GABA — a chemical that controls anxiety and fear.
The Nervous System
Neurons are cells that command your body how to behave.
Your digestive system and brain have more than 100 million neurons communicating through signals.
The pillar of this pathway is…
Your vagus nerve, which acts like a highway and sends signals to and fro in both directions.
The problem: messages through your vagus nerve can be missed or misinterpreted.
For instance, stress can result in miscommunication between your brain and gut.
This can make you nauseous or increase your bathroom trips before a stressful event, like giving an important presentation.
Similarly, scientists have found that people with IBS or other functional digestive disorders are at a higher risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Your intestines are home to trillions of bacteria that release various chemicals and influence how your brain works.
By digesting fiber, good gut microbes produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate. SCFA signals your brain that you’re full and reduces your appetite.
These microbes also produce serotonin, promoting the feeling of happiness.
On the other hand, bad microbes release lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a chemical that triggers inflammation. Higher levels of LPS are linked to brain disorders, including dementia and depression.
A balance between these bacteria is crucial for your gut and brain health.
All in all, a healthy gut microbiome promotes better mood and mental health. And an unbalanced microbiome may contribute to stress, anxiety, and other mood concerns.
Now that you know the importance of a healthy digestive system, you can use it to your advantage and achieve better mental health.
Here’s What You Can Do…
When addressing mental and digestive health, it’s best to consider a holistic solution. As with everything, starting slow and consistently will bring enormous benefits over time.
Grounding Your Nervous System
What do we mean by grounding? It’s fortifying your neurons using vitamins and minerals and calming your “nerves”.
A great to achieve these results is using magnesium — a mineral crucial for transmitting nerve signals.
It helps if you’re deficient in magnesium, commonly seen in people with plant-based diets.
Healthy fats play an equally important role in regulating nerve functions. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and fish provides a variety of healthy fatty acids.
Lastly, aromatherapy is a great tool for grounding your nervous system. You can indulge in the use of essential oils for calming feeling. Need a mood lift? Pair Rosemary with Lavender, a combination that is seen to help people with depression.
You can also spray essential oils on your pillow if you have trouble falling asleep or your anxiety peaks at night.
Improve Your Gut Health
A probiotic can be a great way to address digestive problems affecting your mood.
Adding high-fiber foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits enhances the action of probiotics. Together, they will support regular bowel movements and feed good gut bacteria.
Chamomile is a powerful herb that soothes emotions and calms your digestive system. You can also use Chamomile with a few herbs that help your gut.
Some great options include Cinnamomum, Foeniculum, and Thymus.
Having herbal tea at night can calm your nerves, offering a deep sleep. The mentioned herbs are linked to better mental health and soothing feelings of worry and anxiety by supporting the balance of good and bad bacteria.
Sounds relaxing, right? If so, we have a great option for you…
Our Curatea Digestion contains natural herbs that gently, yet effectively reduce inflammation in the digestive system, ease stomach upset and indigestion, gas, diarrhea and vomiting, mild spasms/cramps of the gastrointestinal tract, and feeling of bloating.
It's super easy to use…Infuse 1 tea bag in 150ml of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink 1-3 times per day, as needed.
It’s A Wrap-Up (TLDR)
Your gut and brain are linked through the gut-brain axis. This axis is a two-way path that allows your mind and digestion “talk” to each other. So, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy digestive system to improve your mental health.
Holistic solutions work the best for gut health, including minerals, a healthy diet, and a blend of herbs that soothe your nervous system and support a healthy microbiome.
And the best part of holistic medicine…you can adapt it to any lifestyle.