Kriben Govender, Founder of Nourishme Organics said, “If you’ve ever felt butterflies in your belly or felt weirdly sick to your stomach after experiencing something traumatic or confronting – then you’ve already felt the connection between your gut and your brain – known as the gut brain axis. Our gut is made up of millions of bacteria that allow for the proper functioning and balance of the gastrointestinal tract. A healthy gut also influences our mental health and wellbeing.”
Think of the gut as an orchestra working together to ensure that all the food you eat is processed efficiently and effectively. The gut facilitates this process by breaking down foods and turning them into nutrients which are then delivered into the bloodstream. It is well documented that a healthy gut also keeps the immune system intact and helps the body fight off diseases, viruses, and unwelcome bacteria.
The link between the gut and the brain is established via several hormones, neurotransmitters, and via the immune system. The gut microbiome is also linked to the body’s central nervous system.
An unhealthy gut has been linked to several mental health issues including anxiety and depression. But this isn’t just a one-way cause and effect situation. Feeling anxious or depressed can also negatively affect the gut, while an unhealthy gut can also impact our mood, mental health more generally.
It’s no surprise that both our gut health and mental health play an important role in the overall function of our bodies. From our thoughts, all the way down to basic bodily functions – one is always affecting the other.
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is thought to affect 1 in 5 Australians at some point in their lives. Symptoms can range from constipation, irregular or alternating diarrhea, stomach pain, and naturally accompanied by heightened stress and even anxiety.
While the exact causes of IBS remain unknown – research is increasingly finding links between IBS and mental vulnerability, anxiety, and depression. This study found that IBS and its symptoms were significantly associated with common mental disorders.
Our gut is highly responsive to changes in diet, stress, and other external factors – like antibiotics. These changes or fluctuations lead to what is known as a dysbiotic state – where the microbiome is unable to function normally and can result in leaky gut syndrome. Just as your mood can be influenced by symptoms of an unhealthy gut, stress can also be a factor that results in leaky gut syndrome or even IBS.
“Probiotics are an important part of any gut health toolkit. By including probiotic-rich foods in your diet you can re-populate your microbiota with all the right (good) bacteria that is missing. Some probiotic foods to help stimulate good bacteria in your gut microbiome: High quality yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and kvass” said Kriben Govender.
To learn more about Nourishme Organics and read more on the Importance of Gut Health, view their website blog article here: https://www.nourishmeorganics.com.au/blogs/nmo-gut-health-journal/gut-health-and-mental-health
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