Gut Health and Mood: There Is a Connection

Gut-brain connection or gut brain axis. Concept art showing a connection from the gut to the brain. 3d illustration.

Did you ever write an e-mail about someone then accidentally send it to that someone?…Did you get a sinking feeling in your stomach?

That sensation and other gut-related (stomach) feelings are the source of so many sayings, such as:

  • Trust your gut

  • Gut wrenching

  • Butterflies in your stomach

  • Your gut feeling

The mind-gut connection is much more than just a collection of  little phrases though. Did you know that the microscopic microbes that reside in your gut can actually influence your feelings and behaviors?. Is that amazing or what?

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria and other microbes. They say up to 3 POUNDS of them!  These microbes directly communicate with your brain along the gut-brain axis, also known as the vagus nerve. We had initially thought the brain was doing most of the talking in this incredible relationship, but new gut microbiome research indicates that your microbes are quite the talkers!

So, Yes, your gut microbes actually communicate with your brain!

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Your gut microbiome communicates by creating and then by consuming the majority of your body’s neurotransmitters. You know serotonin which is your “happy” “feel good” neurotransmitter? Can you believe that over 90% of your body’s serotonin is made by your gut microbiome?

In fact, a change in the make up or the composition of your gut microbes has now been shown to quite significantly affect:

  • Your mood and attitude

  • Your pain tolerance and experience

  • Your cognitive performance and memory

  • Your behavior

  • Your mental health and aberrant behaviors

So, when it comes to improving  your brain health, a great way to start is by paying very close attention to the health of your gut. And  now fortunately, because you’re reading this, you already have a serious learning advantage.

What you eat is one of the most important factors that influences your health and well being The foods that you eat are broken down, changed and transformed by your gut microbiome to feed and nourish your whole body.

And you have read that right – it’s your gut microbiome that’s digesting and transforming a majority of your food.

If you aren’t eating the right foods for a healthy brain (and your second brain, your gut) then you’re going to feel it all over. You are what you eat. We’ve all experienced the times where we felt as though our brain was blocked off and we couldn’t access parts of it. Otherwise known as brain fog. – this can often be due to the gut-brain connection.

fresh vegetables and herbs

Depending on what microbes are inside your gut right now, they can take the food you eat and metabolize it into beneficial nutrients or harmful metabolites. Your microbes also neutralize compounds from food.

For example, neurotransmitter production in the brain is dependent on specific proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Your brain needs a balanced intake of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins to keep you at your peak. Your internal microbes are responsible for metabolizing and transforming your food to keep a steady supply of nutrients to the brain. If the microbes aren’t  being fed properly, their ability to create specific vitamins  decreases, and  this impacts neurotransmitter synthesis. or the ability of the brain to communicate.  This leaves your brain struggling and the dreaded “brain fog” settles in.

One fascinating aspect of all this is this fact. The uniqueness and dynamic nature of your gut microbiome is the real reason why one diet doesn’t fit all. It can also be why recommendations can be effective for one person, and completely useless for another.

The birth and rise of probiotics was the direct result of the new science behind the gut microbiome.

Probiotics are good bacteria that are found in the intestine and can be taken in oral form to supplement the microbiome. There are many to chose from and basically everyone can benefit from supplementing from them. They are especially beneficial after antibiotic use. Antibiotic use decimates and destroys the microbiome and can take up to 2 years to get back to optimal state without supplementing. Stress,poor diet, dehydration and other things can also contribute to a poor microbiome and a person can definitely benefit from supplementing.

I will go into detail about Probiotics in my next post

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