When thinking about food nutrition and healthy lifestyle, we mainly think about how our diet impacts our physical appearance. You eat carbs and proteins to bulk up, or more leafy greens and skip dessert to slim down, right?
But it’s not only our physical health that is tied to what we eat. In fact, there’s a surprising amount of well-documented evidence that links our gut health with our mental health.
That’s not to suggest eating the wrong foods will suddenly make you schizophrenic, but there is evidence that links diet as a variable factor to the onset of schizophrenia, as an example. With that said, let’s examine the surprising link between gut and mental health.
Microbiomes and Mental Health
The absolute gut microbiota, including: microorganisms, parasites, infections, and protozoa, that make up our gastrointestinal (GI) parcel is known as our microbiome.
Current deduction in the field of neuropsychology and the investigation of mental health issues incorporates solid theory that bipolar issues, schizophrenia, and other mental or neurological issues may likewise be related to alternations in the microbiome.
There’s also evidence that links certain bacterias as being beneficial to certain illnesses, which also influence our mental health. Type-2 diabetes, for example, while often thought of as an imbalance in blood sugar levels, is also responsible for mood swings, stress, and anxiety in sufferers. There is a link between certain bacteria in the microbiome and type 2 diabetes, such as Akkermansia muciniphila.
Specialists theorize that any disturbance to the typical, healthful balance of microscopic organisms in the microbiome can make the immune system blow up and add to inflammation of the GI duct, thus prompting the advancement of any sickness that happens all through your body, but also in your cerebrum.
Tracing the Belief in a “Gut Instinct”
Even though our brain and gut are in separate regions of our body, there is believed to be a bidirectional association between them. You’re likely familiar with the term “butterflies in the stomach”, which describes the sensations of nervousness or anticipation, or making a decision based on “gut instinct”.
These sort of idioms go back thousands of years, as even early civilizations realized there was some type of link between our emotions and our stomach.
Ancient Greeks believed emotions came directly from our internal organs, and original Greek bible verses used the verb ‘splagchnizomai’ (splawnk-NITZ-oh-my), which was translated into “filled with love and compassion”. Splagchnizomai is derived from ‘splanxa’, which means “internal organs.”
This isn’t a bible lesson, by the way, just tracing the etymology of phrases like “gut instinct”, so you can see how far back people have believed in a link between our stomach and our brain.
In slightly less-than-modern times, many 19th-century doctors and psychologists attempted to prove a link between our gut and emotional health, but science wasn’t exactly on their side yet. However, in present times, scientists are discovering that there is some verifiable evidence after all.
The Gut-Brain Axis
“The gut-brain axis (GBA) consists of bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. Recent advances in research have described the importance of gut microbiota in influencing these interactions.”
Communication and connection between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain is alluded to as the “gut-brain axis”. This gut-brain hub is a type of correspondence that incorporates neural, hormonal, and immunological motioning between our mind and our gut which provides our gut bacterias the ability to get to the mind.
Connection between Gut and Mental Health
If ever you’ve wondered why prebiotics and probiotics have been such a hot topic in the health and wellness industry, like probiotic supplements made by Natren, don’t dismiss it as just another wacky new-age craze.
Scientists have discovered that gut bacteria enables the body to utilize these substances, while still, different researchers have found that the organisms in the stomach can improve communication between the mind and the gut. The verdict is still out, but general consensus among researchers is that probiotics are beneficial, but it is species and strain specific.
By focusing on the health of your digestive tract, you can bring down your regular responses to anxiety-producing events. As Oxford University scientists have discovered, expanding your intake of prebiotics, a sort of dietary fiber that is utilized as fuel by the bacteria in your gut, can change the manner in which your mind measures emotional information and lower your anxiety reaction.
Overall, there’s still a lot of things to be researched, but the gut-brain axis is one of the hottest topics in science today.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.com)