You are what you eat. That’s what they tell you. But, this has been proven true time and time again in history and health. What we eat impacts our health. It builds our bones, hair, and skin. Food supports our immune system and our heart. Unsurprisingly, the food we eat also impacts our mental health. The mind-gut connection is a relatively new area of research that explores how digestive health is related to mental health.
Have you ever wondered why anxiety gives you an upset stomach? Were you curious if your gut feeling actually meant something?
Keep reading to find out!
IBS & Anti-Depressants
I learned today that Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be treated with anti-depressants. Specifically, IBS benefits from medications that increase the amount of serotonin.
Did you know that 95% of your body’s serotonin is located in your gut? That’s a lot of happy hormones to be located in a place that isn’t even your brain. So what do psychologists mean when they talk about the mind-gut connection? And how can we use it to our advantage when trying to achieve wellness?
Throughout this article, I will explore how the mind-gut connection has been studied thus-far, and how you can apply this information to your own experience!
Researching The Mind-Gut Connection
Serotonin plays a key role in our mental health. In fact, a serotonin deficiency can lead to a variety of mental illnesses, including Major Depressive Disorder, anxiety disorders, and addiction. There are always other factors to consider, but we can rest assured that serotonin is key to our mental health.
With a bunch of our serotonin located in our gut, of course, people are wondering if a healthy diet can help depression. It’s not very groundbreaking news, but it can! Eating our veggies, fiber, and ample amounts of protein is critical to our overall health.
But how critical is our gut health specifically?
Luckily, scientists are already hard at work trying to understand this mind-gut connection.
Anyone remember Activia? Do you remember their whole “happy tummy” slogan? Well, it turns out that they weren’t so far off!
First off, when researchers interrupted the digestive systems in mice, the mice mimicked human behavior associated with depression or anxiety. Further studies show that when human participants were given probiotics regularly, their instances of depression were drastically reduced!
Not only is that fascinating, but it gives us an avenue of treating depression at home.
How To Protect The Mind-Gut Connection
So, we know that having a digestive disorder can impact our mental health. And we know that protecting our digestive health has a positive impact on our mental health.
What does this mean for us and our pursuit of wellness?
- Eat lots of fruits and veggies
- Limit sugar and processed foods
- Eat more probiotics!
- Avoid Antibiotics when possible
- Eat prebiotics like whole grains, apples, and other fiber-rich foods
- Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, or ginger beer are your friend
- Try to build a regular sleep schedule
- Take time to be active!
- Be sure to practice self-care
At the end of the day, you are in charge of your health, and protecting your microbiome is a surefire way to support your physical body and your mind.
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