Does Your Gut Health Affect Your Mental Health?
Your microbiome – the diverse population of bacteria that live within your gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in the health of your gut and other aspects of your physical health, from inflammatory skin disorders to obesity. Researchers are now suggesting that the role of promoting good health may extend to include the health of your brain and neurological systems.
How are they connected?
The thousands of different types of both good and bad bacteria that populate the microbiome usually exist within a balance in favour of beneficial bacteria that will help to prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria that can potentially harm your health. Studies have shown that there is a potential harm associated with an imbalance in the microbiome due to inflammation, intestinal permeability or lack of bacterial diversity, any of which may be associated with an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. In some cases, researchers are confronted with the classic “chicken or egg” question with respect to the association between guy bacteria and poor health, in terms of which comes first. Would an overgrowth of bacteria cause mental health issues, or do mental health issues affect your bacteria?
Current studies of mental health problems include strong speculation that psychological or neurological problems may be associated with an alteration within the microbiome in the gut. Researchers speculate that a disruption to the normal, healthy balance of bacteria can cause the immune system to over react and contribute to the inflammation of the GI tract, in turn leading to the development of symptoms of disease that occur not only throughout the body, but also within the brain.
This system of connections and communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain is referred to as the “gut brain axis”. Some researchers speculate that infections occurring in early life could negatively affect the membrane within the GI tract, which can in turn disrupt the gut-brain axis. This then interferes with early brain development. It can also be altered in different ways, such as poor diet choice, antibiotic use and chemotherapy.
Given how closely the guy and brain interact, it becomes very easy to understand why you may feel nauseous before an interview or during times of stress.
How to improve the gut, to improve mental health
To maintain and restore the health of the microbiome and support an overall better health, it is important to maintain a strong balance of good bacteria within the digestive tract. The first step would be to include a healthy balance diet within your every day life, supporting this with a prebiotic or probiotic food supplement, as well as multivitamins to improve overall immunity and well-being.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that the gut requires to stay healthy, while prebiotics assist in feeding the probiotics. Probiotics are found within fermented foods, as well as in some supplements. Prebiotics are often found within fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.
With busy lifestyles often getting in the way of a healthy balanced meal and relaxation to relieve stress, gut issues are often more common in the last 10 years. For those not gaining enough fibre from the foods they consume, it may be beneficial to consume a meal replacement shake to provide the vitamins and minerals they need to improve overall health. As well as this, a daily multivitamin can increase beneficial nutrients that keep the body healthy.