Did you know that the health of your digestive system can affect your moods and mental health? We are used to thinking of our minds and our bodies as being separate, however scientific research is now confirming that the mind and body are inextricably linked.
Maintaining a healthy gut is vital to keeping your brain healthy and your mood happy!
How are the brain and gut connected?
The gut and the brain are connected through a bidirectional communication pathway called the gut-brain axis. Physically, the vagus nerve connects the brain with the gut. Biochemically, they communicate with hormones, neurotransmitters, and other chemical messengers.
Our microbiome produces neurotransmitters
Trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tract, collectively known as the microbiome, produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Neurotransmitters affect digestive function, but also have profound impacts on our mood. For example, serotonin makes us feel happy, while GABA helps us to feel calm.
Our microbiome supports brain health
Short chain fatty acids, produced by gut bacteria from the fermen- tation of fibre, play an important role in maintaining the structure and function of the blood-brain barrier. Gut bacteria also promote production of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF). These substances reduce inflammation in the brain and encourage the growth and repair of neurons in the brain. Together these effects support better brain health.
An inflamed gut causes an inflamed brain
When our microbiome gets out of balance it can trigger the immune system to react and create inflammation. Inflammation in the gut can cause inflammation in the brain, which has been linked with low mood and poor mental wellbeing.
It is clear that our gut, brain and moods are tightly linked. Maintaining a healthy gut and microbiome may be vital to keeping your brain healthy and your mood happy.