How Does Digestive Health Impact Mental Health?

How does digestive health impact mental health?

 The gut-brain axis

The communication system between our gut and brain is called the 'gut-brain axis'.

The gut and brain interact very closely, it is therefore clear as to why you might feel nauseated before a speech or presentation, or why you might feel intestinal pain during times of stress. This doesn't mean gastrointestinal conditions are "all in our head." Psychology actually connects with physical factors to cause pain and other bowel symptoms.

Psychosocial factors can actually influence the physiology of our gut, as well as symptoms. This means that, stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract.

Individuals with GI disorders perceive pain more than other people because their brains are more responsive to pain signals from their GI tract. Stress can make the existing pain seem a lot worse.

Different foods and types of bacteria stimulate different responses and signals in the cells in the walls of our digestive tract. These reactions have a surprising range of effects on our health, mood, sleep, and physical recovery... Did you know they can even control our personality?

Neuro-Gastroenterologists that are dedicated to studying the 100 million nerve cells in our intestinal wall, call this collection of nerve endings the enteric nervous system (ENS). The job of the ENS is to transfer messages from our digestive tract to the brain, meaning that what happens in our stomach can impact our mental state.

Scientists have found that a large amount of serotonin is released from cells in our gut, and that anxiety and depression can therefore be clearly connected to our diet and overall digestive health. 

Our gut microbes also produce a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps control feelings of anxiety and fear.

Science suggests that certain probiotics can increase the production of GABA and reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Science Magazine have suggested that a healthy microbiome helps to prevent inflammation in the body, regulate our daily moof and that “gut bacteria are essential for proper immune system maintenance and development.” Having an imbalance of gut bacteria (an unhealthy gut), can lead to reduced energy/fatigue, mental health issues, painful digestion, and chronic illness.

InnerHealth Mental Health advice

Improve Your Gut Health with Simple Self-Care and the Correct Food.

While an unhealthy gut sounds scary, it’s important to remember that we can always improve our health and heal the gut with simple self-care practices. A regular workout routine, drinking plenty of water, and controlling stress are all lifestyle factors that support our gut and general health. 

But the most powerful tool we have for maintaining a healthy microbiome is the food we eat. Consuming whole foods that feed friendly bacteria and avoiding the ingredients that harm them can go a long way towards improving our mental and physical health.

Winter is a great opportunity to cozy up and try out some new recipes for your digestive health!

Stress, anxiety and digestion

Are your stomach or intestinal issues: heartburn, abdominal cramps, or loose stools etc. related to stress? Always keep a close eye on these and other common symptoms of stress and discuss them with your doctor. Together you can come up with strategies to help control stress in your life, and plan to help your digestive discomforts.

Common stress-related gut symptoms and conditions include:

  • indigestion 
  • stomach cramps 
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite 
  • unnatural hunger 
  • nausea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 
  • and peptic ulcer

Once you suffer with one of these conditions, the condition itself can become a source of anxiety and feel like it is affecting your quality of life. 

At InnerHealth we have had many friends who experience these conditions that can often cause fear of having accidents which makes them afraid to leave their home or go certain places. If you experience stomach cramps or indigestion, you might become fearful of these symptoms causing you to limit where and what you eat which could impact your social life.

We are always available for a FREE digestive health consultation. We really would love to help you control your symptoms... Give us a call and take control of your symptoms today.

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