Quick facts for you - a healthy gut can contain tens of trillions of bacteria, from over 1000 different species, weighing in around 2KG #quickfacts. To say the gut is a complicated space in all of our bodies is a massive understatement.
A complicated space, that has a huge impact on not just the physical body but the mind as well. As we become more aware of our individual mental health and happiness, we’re constantly seeking ways to manage and maintain it (easier said than done?). What we know is the mind is an extremely fragile and potentially unpredictable part of our lives, affected by a variety of factors.
One such factor is gut health, which has proven to be crucial to a plethora of bodily functions - digestion, absorption of nutrients, protection of cells, and the production of serotonin (where the famous - happy gut, happy mind slogan came from). It’s important to understand the connection between the everyday mental barriers we face, and the influence of gut health so we can all positively react for the best shot at improving our mental happiness:
Our gut health is connected to mental illnesses like depression. People who suffer from depression have lower numbers of beneficial gut bacteria, and it is suggested that stimulating the good bacteria population can alleviate these depressive symptoms. These bacteria are linked to the production of neurotransmitters in our bodies, which are chemicals that are vital to the regulation of our mood and mental health.
Brain development is another arena that seems to be directly affected by the state of gut health. The presence of good, beneficial bacteria in our gut may form an interesting symbiotic relationship that starts in infanthood and lasts a lifetime. The microbiome is responsible for stimulating the general growth processes of the body, something extremely crucial in childhood.
One of the most common issues affecting our mental health is anxiety due to stressful lifestyles. Gut health directly affects the symptoms of anxiety and regulates the perception and function of the brain. The connection between the gut and brain is so strong, the gut has been nicknamed the “second brain.” Regular consumption of prebiotics and probiotics can have a positive effect, alleviating stress and anxiety symptoms.
Hormones are also affected by our overall gut health. Hormonal balance is important for a number of body processes from metabolism to sexual function. Gut bacteria are a vital part of balanced hormonal production because mental problems related to hormonal imbalances link back to the gut.
Not exhaustive, but there is a clear connection between the state of our gut and our mental health. In essence, the symbiotic connection that we have with beneficial bacteria is one of the most important factors of a healthy mind and lifestyle. A healthy diet is not only connected with physical well-being, but also with our moods and mental capacity. When we make a commitment to better gut health, we are improving our brains ability to think and regulate emotions.