Food For The Gut And Mind
Do you feel down? Maybe one of the causes isn't eating properly. The gut-brain axis describes the relationship between gut and brain health. Eating foods that support a healthy gut flora may significantly improve your mood if you suffer from depression, mood disorders, or anxiety. This article offers a thorough analysis of how your digestive system impacts your mood (and vice versa). Additionally, you'll discover what things to eat and how they could make you happier.
More than we previously realized, the brain and gut are intertwined; recent research is demonstrating the critical function of the microbiome in regulating the brain-gut axis. These findings hold enormous promise for using the brain to treat gut problems in patients. assist those who are experiencing brain or emotional problems by listening to their instincts. Imagine if altering your diet could boost your mood or enhance your mental health and cognitive function. Or if lowering stress also helps with stomach issues. That sounds intriguing. Learn everything there is to know about the gut-brain axis and how you can use the most recent findings to enhance both your gut and your brain's health.
The gut-brain connection
IBS and other functional GI problems can lead to pain, bloating, and other unpleasant digestive symptoms. At some point in their lives, they affect almost 35% of people, disproportionately harming women. These digestive problems frequently lack an obvious or simple physical explanation, making it challenging to treat and find relief from them.
We already know that certain of our digestive functions are controlled by our brains. According to research, the stomach can start producing digestive enzymes even when one is not thinking about eating. Your gut is also responsive to your emotions; many of us can remember having stomach "knots" or "butterflies" when we were nervous or queasy. Indeed, several studies suggest that stress may be a significant—and sometimes disregarded—cause of digestive problems. According to Harvard Health, stress can cause and make other symptoms, such as stomach pain, worse.
For this reason, if you experience stomach problems, it's critical to consider your stress and emotions. In comparison to conventional medical treatment alone, numerous studies have demonstrated that stress reduction approaches help relieve stomach symptoms more quickly. Let's first take a closer look at the biology of the microbiota-gut-brain axis and its significance for the development of anxiety and depressive disorders before discussing how to accomplish it.
Your "main" nervous system is made up of two major components. We may consciously regulate the somatic nervous system when we use our muscles to walk, chew our food, or swim laps, for example. The autonomic nervous system controls how quickly or slowly many bodily processes, including respiration, digestion, and heart rate, happen. Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are included. The sympathetic nervous system quickens everything, triggering our "fight or flight" responses. When we feel worried and sense danger, whether it's real or not, we may feel this happening. We breathe more deeply and our heartbeat quickens. Our body concentrates on making sure our muscles have enough blood and oxygen to working hard while we prepare ready to fight or flee.
The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, causes things to move more slowly. The primary nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system, the vagus nerve, may detect compounds produced by the intestinal microbiota (i.e. short-chain fatty acids, bile acid metabolites, and tryptophan metabolites). This occurs when we're unwinding or when the threat has passed and we're beginning to settle down.
Our digestive systems perform significantly better when our heart, lungs, and muscles are relaxed. We are secreting more digestive enzymes to break down food, we are absorbing more nutrients, and our gut inflammation is at its lowest point during this phase. The "rest and digest" phase is so named for this reason.
The gut is in contact with both of these autonomic nervous system branches, sympathetic and parasympathetic. This indicates that stomach issues are something that our bodies can experience during stress. Furthermore, while we are relaxed, our digestion operates as it should.
How stress and emotions affect your gut
It is simple to understand how stress and other emotions can have an impact on your digestive system given the direct connection between the gastrointestinal tract and brain. The gut does really "feel" certain moods and emotions, such as fear, sadness, rage, anxiety, and melancholy. They can affect pain and bloating when they too quickly speed up (or slow down) our digestive tracts. Additionally, it can cause pathogens to pass through the stomach lining and enter the bloodstream, triggering our immune systems. It may potentially alter the microbiome while causing more intestinal irritation.
Then, these digestive problems are transmitted to the brain, heightening the stress response and impacting our emotions and cognitive functions. This vicious cycle of stress and digestive problems followed by further stress and digestive problems intensifies. It is believed that the gut-brain axis also affects other neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, autism spectrum disorders, and Alzheimer's disease. Not just the brain and mood, but many other regions of the body can be significantly impacted by changes in the composition of the gut microbiota, according to recent studies. They are linked to heart disease and depression as well.
How do you fix the gut axis of the brain?
Your health can be greatly affected by what you consume. This is especially accurate when discussing the microbiome. Eating a plant-based, high-fiber diet that is prebiotic-rich helps your gut health. That's because it gives your beneficial gut bacteria access to the meals they need to thrive and produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids. It's also advised to eat foods high in probiotics that support intestinal health. Red meat and sugar intake restrictions can also be beneficial. These meals encourage a better microbiome by supporting the preservation of a diversified population of numerous microbial species to improve your health. In addition, they can lower the risk of depression and heart disease and enhance intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut).
What to Eat for a Healthier Gut & Happier Mood
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Beans and Legumes
- Nuts and Seeds
- Whole Grains (gluten-free if needed)
- Fermented Foods (yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha)
- Foods high in sugar
- Red meat
- Foods high in saturated and trans fats
How Does Stress Affect The Gut-Brain Axis?
How about pressure? An increasing corpus of research indicates that various stress reduction methods or psychotherapy may be beneficial for those who have digestive problems. These therapies can improve the parasympathetic "relax and digest" response, diminish the sympathetic "fight or flight" response, and even lower inflammation.
I can attest that when I consume high-quality food and regularly take care of myself, my mood is also improved. I also understand that if you want to see long-lasting improvements, it's crucial to make little, steady changes. By including more plant-based foods in your diet, you could start improving the health of your digestive system. Alternately, you might try practicing mindfulness meditation to reduce your tension. Whatever the situation, be sure to follow these steps frequently so you can recover quickly!