Hippocrates once said that “all disease begins in the gut.” Over 2,000 years later, there is still validity to his statement. This is not to say that every disease stems from the gut, but it’s a part of your body that you should be mindful of, especially if struggling with mental health.
You may be asking yourself, “What does my stomach have to do with my mental health?” Well, it turns out that the connection between our stomachs and our brains are really important if you are dealing with depression.
Let’s start with your stomach. You’ve got around 10 to 100 trillion microorganisms, mostly bacteria, that live in your gut. A healthy gut is one that holds good bacteria and fights off the bad bacteria. This part of the body is so complex that doctors refer to it as a microbiome, a system that protects us from germs, produces vitamins, and breaks down food to release energy in our bodies. When the gut is compromised (when there is more bad bacteria than good bacteria) it can greatly affect both physical and mental health.
By supporting your gut microbiome, you can significantly change how your brain processes emotions. The gut and brain have the ability to communicate through the nervous system, hormones, and the immune system. Poor gut health can impair these systems, negatively affecting the communication between the mind and the brain. Nourishing your gut in a healthy way can make you happier and more relaxed, which can be crucial for somebody with depression.
Here are three simple suggestions to create and maintain a healthy gut microbiome:
- Eat prebiotic foods high in fiber. Prebiotic foods are those that good bacteria like to feed on and grow from. Prebiotic foods include bananas, asparagus, garlic and onions.
- Add probiotic-rich, fermented foods to your diet. Probiotics are good bacteria that work to keep your gut healthy. They can be found in yogurt, kefir (a drink similar to yogurt), pickles, and even dark chocolate.
- Cut back on your consumption of sugar and carbs. Diets high in sugar and refined carbs can cause an imbalance in the gut bacteria that can lead to inflammation and are risk factors for diabetes.
- Restrict gluten consumption. Even if you don’t have a gluten allergy, cutting back can prevent permeability, or deterioration, of the gut lining. If our gut lining is not strong enough, gluten consumption can lead to the production of inflammatory bacteria that can get into your system outside of the gut, disrupting the communication between the gut and the brain.
This is not all there is to know about gut health and the mind, but it is a great starting point if health is a concern of yours. Your gut feeling can be more than just a feeling, it can be your brain trying to communicate with you via your stomach. What you eat can affect how you feel, and if you are looking to learn more about food and mood, check out our blog for related posts. If you want to read more about gut flora and gut health in general, take a look at the sources below!
Gut Health Info:
I love this post! Drinking a probiotic drink as we speak:)