When mental health gets discussed, everything seems to point to the brain, with behaviour, thought patterns and memories being the main focus. But what if I told you that your gut has a lot to say on the matter? Would you believe me?!
It’s actually been found that the health of the bacteria in our gut can hugely influence our brain, which is not surprising considering that bacteria and microorganisms outnumber the cells in our body by 10 to 1!
We know that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress can cause lots of digestive issues, but recently it’s been found that it can work the other way too- the gut can influence the brain.
Just as the brain is filled with neurons, so too are the intestines, including those that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is involved in mood, aggression and depression.
It’s important to keep your gut bacteria happy because they maintain the integrity of your gut lining, which is essential. If this gut lining gets damaged it can cause leaky gut, resulting in inflammation which can be a cause of many brain related disorders.
Babies who have abnormal gut flora can be at risk for developing things like autism, ADHD, and other learning disabilities, especially if vaccinations occur before this gut flora is restored.
Studies have been carried out with “germ-free” mice i.e. mice without a microbiome, and results show brain changes and a likelihood of “high- risk behaviours”.
Luckily, this means that there is something we can do to help our mental health, and that begins with the food we choose to eat. A healthy diet can modify and improve your gut flora, and so have an effect on the gut-brain connection.
Studies have also found that probiotics (which is a combination of beneficial bacteria) can affect regions in the brain that process emotions and make decisions.
In achieving mental health, these are the 4 most important nutritional factors to consider:
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Blood sugar regulation
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Essential fatty acids
Remember though, everyone is an individual and each person will present with their own health issues. If you have an emotional imbalance going on, I highly recommend booking in for a consultation to assess the route cause and create a personalised plan.