Did you know that there is a connection between our gut health and our mental health? Or should I say, our core well-being? Maybe you’re wondering – how? The secret behind this is the Gut-brain connection.
Old aphorisms like “I have a gut feeling about this” or “thinking with your stomach” or “I have butterflies in my stomach” may surprisingly make sense primarily because countless studies and research have been known that our gut health is the key to our overall health. In this article, let’s learn more about the connection between our gut and brain and how the foods we eat do actually affect our mood.
What are human microbiomes?
The truth behind those “butterflies in your stomach” can be traced with term microbiome – but what are these?
Basically, our gut has its own microbial community and ecosystem which is inhabited by good and bad bacteria as well as our gut microbiome. These beneficial bacteria play an important role in keeping our digestion runs smoothly and strengthens our body’s immune system as well. Based on studies, a healthy gut microbiota is linked to a decreased development of serious mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
Our gut bacteria is not only known for its beneficial effect on our mental health but it can also affect our how well we sleep – but what are facts?
How does gut communicates to our brain?
Our body is the home of billions and trillions of microorganisms that play a vital role on our overall well-being which is why in order to keep them safe and live in harmony, we need to pay attention to the food we eat. The gut microbiota signals our brain through our central nervous system or referred to as the “gut-brain axis” or more specifically the vagus nerve.
According to a study conducted on mice subjects, certain bacteria strain called lactobacillus has significantly reduced their anxiety levels. This phenomenon is due to the compound’s ability to increase the levels of gut hormone and neurotransmitter called serotonin. Other ways on how does the gut microbiomes could affect our mental health is by nutrient-scavenging, bacterial metabolites and toxins, and changing the taste-receptors.
How does gut health influence our moods and overall mental health?
Stress levels, quality of sleep, and mental health is intimately tied to our gut health. This is because our body tends to go through a “fight or flight system” that is ruled based on our cortisol levels. Too much stress can lead to chronic inflammation, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues which can also be the root of many diseases – and that when the good bacteria plays its part to keep our body’s immune responses optimized and regulated.
On the other hand, our gut can also affect our sleep-wake cycles as evidence has shown that the higher the level of bad bacteria in our gut could increase the likelihood of fatigue and sleep problems. Lack of sleep which will eventually alter our cognitive function and affects our overall mental health.
Having a healthy eating habit can definitely affect our mental health, sleep quality, stress resistance, entire body function, and well-being. This fact should warn us to pay more attention to our gut health and the foods we consume. So next time you feel those butterflies in your stomach, you should definitely need to check your gut health.