Well, it might sound strange to you but guess what? Your gut and your brain are connected with each other. This connection of your gut with your brain is a communication network between your digestive system and brain. It is generally known as the second brain and is scientifically known as the enteric nervous system. It is known as the second brain, as it can function independently.
The gut-brain connection allows your brain to influence the working of your gut and vice versa. Clarifying this statement with the help of an example, have you ever felt sick before a big speech or heard that someone got sick before an important meeting? The reason is that the stress in your brain can cause physical symptoms in your gut. Moreover, this connection can also influence your mood, appetite, and immune system. In this blog, the focus will be on the connection and discuss in detail the strategies to promote a healthy gut-brain connection, so to learn more about this, read the blog till the very end!
The beneficial microbes living in our gut, commonly known as probiotics, are believed to positively affect our mental health. And scientific research on the topic has shown that gut microbes have a significant impact on our mental well-being.
Probiotics regulate neurotransmitters, hormones and inflammation levels in our body. That results in impacting our mood, behavior and cognitive functioning. As more research goes on this topic; we gain a deeper understanding of this gut-brain connection.
It seems to be two entirely different things with no connection, but there is surprisingly a link between gut health and mood disorders. With some scientific evidence, it is proven that gut health can have an impact on one's mental health. The disease known as dysbiosis and gut inflammation are linked with mental issues like anxiety and depression.
The gut's complex ecosystem of bacteria and probiotics regulates the various bodily functions, including producing neurotransmitters responsible for regulating emotions. Due to these reasons, a healthy gut is crucial for a healthy body.
As we have discussed, the gut-brain connection is vital to understanding mental health, and stress is one factor that can really disrupt this delicate system.
While our body is under stress, it reacts by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This release of hormones negatively affects our immune system leading to inflammation and disruption of our digestive functions. Moreover, with prolonged exposure to stress, mental illness like anxiety and stress can onset.
After the detailed discussion about the gut-brain connection and its impact on our mental health, we will discuss some strategies one can use to promote a healthy brain-gut connection.
A balanced and healthy diet with a perfect blend of fresh fruits & vegetables and whole grains can promote an overall healthy gut-brain connection. With foods that are enriched with fiber, you are simply fueling your probiotics as it enhances their growth. Fiber-containing foods are prebiotics which are used as food by probiotics.
Moreover, some other foods can be used, like probiotic-rich foods, namely yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir can also help promote a healthy gut-brain connection.
Stress is one thing that can really disrupt mental health and therefore cause gut issues like diarrhea and stomach issues. Therefore working on activities to reduce stress can help promote a healthy gut-brain connection. For stress reduction, you can take some time for self-care activities like meditation, some sort of yoga etc.
It is a brainer that regular exercise is essential for the maintenance of all body functions. In order to have a healthy gut-brain connection, you must look for at least 30 minutes of training as it is a must for you daily and is recommended for optimal health benefits.
Due to the fast lifestyle nowadays, people want quick meals, and that is giving rise to the use of Processed foods. These foods are a must to avoid as they contain additives that disturb the beneficial bacteria balance of the gut.
And due to these changes, the body can experience an increase in inflammation and risk of developing mental health issues. So as a health-conscious person, you should try to limit processed foods or simply try avoiding them altogether.
Sleep is crucial for body health, whether it is physical or mental health. And the reasons are its ability to help you reduce your stress levels which could help you in improving your concentration during waking hours. According to scientific studies, every man should prioritize at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is ideal for promoting a healthy gut-brain connection as it allows beneficial bacteria in the microbiome time to repair themselves after exposure to toxins during waking hours.
Probiotic supplements are a new trend in the market. As we are getting more and more away from natural foods, consuming processed ones, and using other materials that restrict the growth of probiotics, the concentration of probiotics that are important to our gut health is decreasing.
Therefore, taking regular probiotics supplements or food sources such as yoghurt or kefir is becoming increasingly important. Even though supplements are good, there is no alternative to consuming them through food sources.
It is a serious issue, but it is often taken lightly. With the wider availability of antibiotics, people are mostly using them unnecessarily. And that use of antibiotics is actually killing probiotics and disrupting the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome.
This can cause severe digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation. So it is recommended to ask your doctor if any alternatives are available before taking antibiotics.
Heavy doses of alcohol and other drugs can potentially damage the microbiota function and their composition in your gut, which could induce mental health, e.g. anxiety, depression or disorders.
The connection between the gut and the brain is a powerful and intricate system providing insight into mental health and overall wellness. And promoting a healthy gut-brain connection through lifestyle strategies improves both physical and mental health outcomes.