The Gut-Brain Connection
by Amy Berry
Over the past years, more studies have been undertaken regarding the link between our gut and brain. The communication system that travels between the gut and the brain is called the gut-brain axis, and because of this, you’ll want to consider the foods you are consuming and how they may impact your overall health and wellbeing. Keep reading to learn more about the gut-brain connection and our top tips for taking care of your gut.
How Are the Gut and Brain Connected?
If you’ve ever had that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, you may have realized that your gut is very sensitive to certain emotions. When you experience anger, sadness, anxiety, or happiness, your brain sends signals down to your stomach. Of course, this is a reason we should all be looking to eat a more balanced diet so that we can keep both our gut and our brain healthy. Your gut consists of every organ involved in the food digestion process, including your esophagus and stomach, the small and large intestines, gallbladder, liver, and pancreas. You’ve probably heard the gut referred to as the “second brain” before, and it operates both on its own and in communication with your brain.
Your gut and brain can communicate via the vagus nerve, which controls the messages traveling from your brain to your gut and other organs in the body. However, the gut-brain connection also works chemically, and neurotransmitters and hormones can be used to send messages between the brain and gut. These messages can be impacted by the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live within your gut, which are referred to as the gut microbiome. While these may be beneficial, some microbiome may also be harmful to your gut.
Mental Health and the Gut Microbiome
It’s been suggested that there’s a strong link between experiencing mental health issues and stomach issues, such as heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and diarrhea. Research suggests that changes to your gut microbiome can impact your brain, which may create symptoms that are similar to those of depression and anxiety. Experiencing depression and anxiety can also create changes in your gut microbiome due to how your body reacts when it is under stress. Having a balanced diet can help to impact your overall mood as you’ll find your gut is put under less stress and receives the nutrients it needs to be healthy and balanced.
Taking Care of Your Cut
To take care of your gut, and therefore look after your brain and mental health, you’ll want to focus on eating a nutritious and balanced diet. Aim to eat more whole grains, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and fish. We always encourage you to start off your day with a healthy and filling breakfast, like our Alternative Oats products. To care for your gut, you’ll want to try and avoid fried, sugary, and processed foods as much as possible. Prebiotics should also be consumed as part of your diet, as these will help the good bacteria and fungi in your gut to grow.
The gut-brain connection is a fascinating topic and one that we can only expect to see more research on in the future. To protect your brain and gut, we always recommend eating a nutritious diet that will fuel your mind and body each day and help you to overcome any challenges you may face.