Are you dealing with skin issues? Are you feeling depressed? Do you have joint pain? Do you feel bloated? All of these issues can be traced back to your gut. The gut-brain connection is no joke; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.
The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines
A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression.
Gut imbalance symptoms might include physical, behavioral and emotional conditions such as:
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Digestive problems like gas and bloating
- Weight gain
- Skin issues like acne, eczema, and rosacea
- Mood swings
- Autoimmune disorders
- Difficulty concentrating
- Joint pain
Gut health and Depression
Scientists are discovering that your gut and your brain are constantly talking to one another.
This back-and-forth communication is known as the gut-brain axis and occurs primarily on the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve stemming from the brain. This nerve is connected to several parts of the gut, including the stomach and intestines. The vagus nerve also touches other organs important for digestion, like the pancreas.
The vagus nerve is a two-way information highway that connects 200-600 million nerve cells between our intestines and brain. Many of us have felt this gut-brain link. Have you ever been too stressed to eat ? Interestingly, this perceived stress, anxiety, and nervousness isn’t just in your head; it can lead to inflammation in your gut and beyond.
A recent study found that transferring the fecal bacteria of depressed people to rats led to depressed conducts in the rats.
Another study divided 40 healthy women into two groups based on their gut bacteria composition. The women with a prevalence of one type of bacteria reported feeling less anxious, stressed, and irritable after looking at negative images compared to the other group, whose guts were dominated by a different kind of bacteria.
While it’s best to manage stressors to reduce stress-related symptoms, like depression, one of the most direct and quick ways to calm the vagus nerve is through dietary change. Just as emotions send messages to your gut, food sends messages to your brain.
Gut Health and Weight Gain….
Since your gut bacteria line your intestines, they come into contact with the food you eat. This may affect what nutrients you absorb and how energy is stored in your body.
One study examined the gut bacteria in 77 pairs of twins, one of whom was obese and one of whom was not.
The study found that those who were obese had different gut bacteria than their non-obese twins. In particular, obesity was associated with lower gut bacteria diversity, meaning there were fewer types of bacteria in the gut.
Other studies have shown that if the gut bacteria from obese people are put into mice, the mice gain weight. This suggests that gut bacteria could affect weight.
Improving your gut health from the inside out…
Cleaning up your diet is the most powerful way to starve the bad bacteria and feed the good guys. Heal your gut by following these gut-friendly diet tips:
Whole grains: Whole grains are grains that haven’t been refined. They’re high in fiber, which is digested by healthy gut bacteria like Bifidobacteria and may aid weight loss.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain many different fibers that are good for gut bacteria. Eating an assortment of plant-based foods can improve gut bacteria diversity, which is linked to a healthy weight.
Quit sugar: Bad bacteria loves sugar and feeds off of it. Excess sugar is the prime culprit behind small bacterial intestinal overgrowth and candida. Cut out sugar, low-nutrient carbs, conventional dairy, and alcohol.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds also contain lots of fiber and healthy fats, which help support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Feed your good bacteria: Prebiotics are what good bacteria (aka probiotics) feed on. You can get prebiotics from vegetables rich in soluble fiber like sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and asparagus, as well as coffee and chocolate.
Increase your collagen intake: Besides improving your skin, collagen heals and repairs the gut lining, making it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. Eat collagen-rich foods such as bone broth, pork, salmon, chicken skins, or add a hydrolyzed collagen protein powder to your smoothie.
At Rehealth, we believe that having informed patients is the only way to deliver optimal healthcare. Please visit our website to find out more interesting content and be a part of an amazing health integrated community!