We’ve recently explored the relationship between the gut and the immune system; now for part two of our series, we will dig into how the gut affects our mind and mood.
The Connection Between Your Gut, Brain, & Mood
As I’ve briefly explained in part one, the gut communicates directly with the brain through the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS is two thin layers made up of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract. Known as the ‘brain’ of the gut, the ENS is not only responsible for controlling the digestive systems, but for sending signals directly to the brain. Have you ever ‘gone with your gut’ or felt butterflies in a nervous situation? Well this is a direct result of the constant communication between the ENS and the brain.
To further explain this connection researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset may contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” says Pasricha of Johns Hopkins. It has been found that irritation in the gut may send signals to the central nervous system, affecting mood changes and vice versa.
The gut sends and receives these signals to the brain naturally and often without notice. Psycho-social factors influence the signals sent from the gut to the brain as well. In other words, stress or depression can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, make inflammation worse, or make you more susceptible to infection.
Balancing Gut Bacteria, You Need More than Just Probiotics…
Besides probiotics, nourishing the gut with prebiotics has been found to be one of the best ways to create a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Prebiotics are simply carbohydrates that humans cannot digest, but bacteria in our guts can. It has also been found and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that drinking 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per day has prebiotic benefits to the gut which can significantly modulate the growth of select gut microbiota in humans. In other words, that extra glass of wine is completely necessary 😉 Cheers!
Aside from taking prebiotics to keep the gut healthy, there are herbs that have a positive effect on mood and the gut. For example, Ashwagandha has been proven to help not only combat stress and anxiety but also combat the effects that stress and anxiety has on the body. Because it is an adaptogenic herb, it works with your body to bring you back into balance. We here are Tranquility Labs, sell some of the best Ashwagandha on the market! Pure and potent, learn more here.
Take a Holistic Approach to Gut & Mood Health
It is important to take an integrated approach when it comes to gut health and harmony. While supplements work to bring about gentle, natural changes in the body, diet and lifestyle should also be considered.
The constant ebb and flow of communication happening between the gut and the brain helps our bodies function as one whole system. As research continues to prove, the guts role in our overall health is profound… so what you waiting for?