Can our gut health impact our mental health? Let’s explore the impact that the gut and the brain have on each other. The primary negative mental health impact from poor gut health is anxiety, second to that is depression. Not only does our gut health impact our mental health, but our mental health impacts our gut health as well. When you are feeling anxious do you feel churning in your stomach, or nausea? That is your gastrointestinal track reacting to your emotions. Feeling anxious, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed; all of those emotions have a negative impact on your gut health. Our brain and our gastrointestinal system are intimately connected. 

Do you experience heartburn, nausea, bloating, cramping, other stomach related problems? This might be linked to your mental health. Stress, anxiety, depression can all cause our gut health to decline. There are many treatments available to reduce the stomach upset from everyday life. Research by Bailey (2011), studied the impact of stress-induced changes to the gut microbiome health. Essentially, the research shows that while our gut health can impact our mental health, the negative changes in our mental health can have lasting impacts on our gut health. Increased stressors can reduce the production of beneficial bacteria and decrease the diversity of the gut microbiome. These changes can impact the health of the individual which can make them more susceptible to infections and diseases, as well as increasing the inflammation of the gut.

 A healthy gut functions can be linked back to having a normal central nervous system (CNS) functions. What does that mean? Our gut releases hormones and neurotransmitters which send messages into the brain or the autonomic neurons. Essentially what this is stating is that our gut houses more than just the food that we have consumed, serotonin and dopamine are two neurotransmitters that are produced in the gut. Serotonin and dopamine are some of the happy neurotransmitters that our body produces. 90% of serotonin and 50% of dopamine in our body is stored in the gut. Other neurochemicals that are produced in the gut are GABA, norepinephrine, and melatonin. These chemicals are delivered by the gut bacteria, such as probiotics, which sends the messages to the brain. The brain uses these amazing neurochemicals to regulate our mood and cognition. Are you struggling to sleep, not finding the happy feelings throughout the day, unable to reduce your anxiety? Check out your gut health and make some adjustments to get that in order.

Improving your mental health can improve your gut health, and vice versa. Various ways to support your gut and mental health is working through trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, and so on with your mental health therapist. Also, check with your medical provider to discuss potentially adding pro/prebiotics into your diet. Diet and exercise are always positive additions into any healthful lifestyle. Check with your medical providers regarding a healthful gut happy eating plan, as well as an effective exercise plan. Reducing your stress, and increasing your healthy gut microbiomes can lead to a happy tummy and a happy mind/body.