Ever heard the expression, “you are what you eat”? Well, while many of us know that our mental health can be directly affected by our diet, most people aren’t aware that it is actually the bacteria inside us that causes the food to affect the way we feel. With this in mind, we want to look at how your gut can heal your brain in this blog.
How your gut health could be connected to your anxiety
According to Harvard Health, “a troubled intestine can send signals to your brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut”. This means that a person’s gut problems could potentially be the cause of any anxiety or stress that they are experiencing. Ever felt a whirling feeling in your stomach before an important meeting or presentation? Well, then you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Given how closely the gut and brain interact, it isn’t hard to understand why you may feel intestinal discomfort during times of stress. Despite this, we shouldn’t assume that gastrointestinal conditions are imagined. In reality, stress or anxiety can actually affect movement and contractions of the gastrointestinal.
Stress-Related Gut Symptoms and Conditions
When you’re nervous or anxious, for example before that big meeting, your body releases hormones and chemicals that enter the digestive system. It’s these hormones and chemicals that affect the microorganisms living along your gut. The microorganisms help with the digestion process while decreasing antibody production, so this can result in a chemical imbalance which can cause several gastrointestinal conditions. Some of which include:
- Stomach upset and diarrhoea
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Food for thought
One of the ways that you can improve your mental health is to know which types of foods improve your gut health.
As we so eloquently said earlier “you are what you eat” and so here are some examples of foods that help both your gut and your mental health.
Did you know that eating fibre can improve your memory and your overall mood? In addition to this, fibre can also decrease inflammation and oxidative stress by supporting microbiota.
We all feel better after a few hours in the sun, so it should come as no surprise to you that getting more vitamin D in your diet can improve your mental health. Vitamin D is great for regulating your microbiome and reducing gastrointestinal inflammation.
Protein can help to limit the number of bad bacteria in a microbiome. This is because proteins contain nitrogen. In turn, eating protein can help to decrease feelings of depression because of the production of serotonin and we all know that serotonin is a huge mood booster.
If you would like to learn more about the connection between the gut and the brain, you can read our ‘How Gut Bacteria Leads to Depression and Anxiety’ blog. Alternatively, you can browse our other blogs here.