Gut-Brain Connection & Mental Health: Fad or Fiction?

Gut-Brain Connection
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Have you had butterflies in your stomach before a meeting at work? Ever made a decision based on your ‘gut feeling’? Do you get nauseous when you’re nervous?

Gut health and gut health products have been a recent fixture in the complementary and mainstream health care industry. In both of these industries, there have been plenty of fads and fake-outs that have been enough to turn some consumers into sceptics. As discerning consumers, we must ask ourselves why gut health is so important?

On face value, it’s easy to see the importance of gut health. The most vital part of what we do as humans is eat and digest food in order to receive nutrients so that we can keep our bodies going. Therefore, of course, we want our guts to work well. However, emerging science is suggesting a far deeper connection between our gut and our wellbeing than previously thought. In fact, this connection is being referred to as the gut-brain axis – a two-way link from bowel to behaviour.

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Gut-Brain Axis

It has been scientifically established that there is a link between gut health and mental health, in such a way that your mental health can contribute to gastrointestinal issues such as IBS, bloating, stomach pain and more. In addition, new research indicates that gut health issues and imbalances themselves could also be contributing factors to mental issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.

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This is due to the gut-brain axis, a two-way road for biochemical signals that will trigger a mental or physical response at either end. There are studies that suggest that an unhealthy gut microbiome can contribute to mental issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and more. 

The new research creates a chicken-and-egg sort of situation. If it is a two-way road, then what came first: the mental issues or the gut health issues? The science is still out on that one, but one thing is for sure, they have a correlating relationship, so keeping your gut health in check is vital to your mental health.

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Keeping a Healthy Microbiome

So now that we know what the problem is – how do we fix it? 

Gut health and its mental and emotional counterparts largely come down to a healthy microbiome. The microbiome is the population of bacteria that lives in your gastrointestinal tract and plays an important role in a myriad of health issues from obesity, inflammatory skin disorders to many more. 

Probiotics, prebiotics and a healthy diet can rebalance your microbiome. Probiotic foods and supplements are full of live bacteria and include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir and apple cider vinegar.

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Prebiotics ferment in the gut and include green bananas and artichokes. A healthy diet is also imperative, so cut down on the sugar and eat more greens.

Photo credit: Toowong WholeLife Pharmacy & Healthfoods

If you would like further information, please come down and visit us at Wholelife Toowong and talk with one of our friendly staff – we have a range of everything you will need to get your gut going again!

Katie Robertson is a writer, editor, and avid health researcher, paving her own way to wellness. Katie has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing and is the retail manager at WholeLife Pharmacy & Healthfoods. When she’s not working, Katie lives in the world of fiction and you can often find her hiding in her herb garden with a good book.