Did you know that there is a relationship between your mental health and the state of your gut microbiome? Current research leads to the fact that there is a big connection between the two. Today we will discuss the relationship between the gut and the brain as well as the things you can focus on to keep them both happy!
The Gut-Brain Axis
The gut–brain axis is the biochemical signaling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. It’s like a two way street, where the nervous system can send signals that affect the gastrointestinal tract and the state of the gut microbiome can also influence the brain and nervous system. Studies have shown that probiotic supplementation can have positive effects on brain chemistry for a variety of reasons.
Most people know that neurotransmitters such as dopamine, GABA, and serotonin affect our mood in different ways. We associate neurotransmitters with the brain, but they are closely linked to the gut as well. In fact, a lot of our neurotransmitters are actually created in the gut! Studies of probiotic supplementation in rats have shown that oral ingestion of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium infantis resulted in an increase of the neurotransmitter GABA and an increase in tryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin.
The Role of Chronic Inflammation
When the gut microbiome has an imbalance of good bacteria to pathogenic bacteria, this is called dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis contributes to chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and chronic inflammation in the gut can contribute to mental disorders. This article explains that, “Increasing evidence has associated gut microbiota to both gastrointestinal and extragastrointestinal diseases. Dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut have been linked to causing several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, which are prevalent in society today.” So keeping your inflammation levels in a healthy range can have a tremendous impact on your mental health!
What You Eat Matters
We are learning more and more every day about the interconnectedness of the body’s systems. Our gut health affects more than just our digestion. The best thing you can do is focus on eating a whole foods based diet consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and grains. Fibrous foods contain prebiotics that feed our good gut bacteria which keep our bodies healthy and functioning optimally. Consuming fermented food rich in probiotics or supplementing with a probiotic supplement, such as our G-Plans probiotic supplement, can help greatly too. Food and beverages high in sugar, fast food, fried food, and processed food should be avoided, as they can have a negative effect on your good gut bacteria.