The human colon is a home for trillions of bacteria. It makes a separate ecosystem known as the gut microbiome. They play a vital role in maintaining your body’s physical health and also influence your brain. They maintain physical health by preventing the entry of pathogens and also prevent skin disorders etc. If your gut microbiome is imbalanced, then it will affect your mood. A balanced microbiome can help you stay relieved from stress and anxiety. Let us see the connection between the gut microbiome and mental health.
Relation Between Microbiome And Brain
The gut directly connects to the brain through the vagus nerve, which controls messages to all vital organs like the heart, lungs, etc. Chemically, the gut connects to the brain through hormones and neurotransmitters that transmit messages. Therefore the gut microbiome can influence or affect the transfer of messages between the gut and the brain.
There are plenty of good and bad bacteria living together in a balance in your gut environment. However, they do not allow the overgrowth of bad bacterias. Studies show that if this balanced environment is interrupted and unhealthy bacteria overgrow, it can result in poor health and potential harm. This harm is due to the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and inflammation, lack of bacterial diversity, and intestinal permeability.
Research in neuropsychology states that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychological and neurological problems might be associated with alterations in gut bacteria. In addition, studies state that if the gut environment is disturbed, it can lead to overreactions of the immune system and cause gastrointestinal tract inflammation. It will, in turn, give way to disorders associated with the brain.
The Gut Bacteria And Mental Health
There is a strong connection between mental health problems and gastrointestinal symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Studies have shown that change in the balance of the gut microbiome or any inflammation in the gut can cause brain problems like autism, depression, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, etc.
When you consume plant foods such as legumes, fruits, whole grains, seeds, vegetables, nuts, etc., the good gut bacteria produce butyrate. This essential short-chain fatty acid is very beneficial for your brain also. It keeps your gut healthy and prevents inflammations that can be harmful to your mental health. You can increase the production of essential short-chain fatty acid butyrate in the gut by including a few foods in your diet.
What To Do?
If you wish to restore or maintain your gut health and improve overall health, you must maintain a favorable environment for healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. For this, you have to consume a well-balanced diet that includes foods with probiotics and prebiotics. It will support microbial health and restore the balance in the microbiome.
Prebiotics are foods that contain a specific type of fiber that helps nurture the growth of probiotic bacteria. In addition, probiotics can also produce GABA that plays a role in mood regulation and improvement. Probiotics are readily available in the market, and some are among the common foods you already consume. You must know that the probiotic effect is eliminated by processing, cooking, and preserving at high temperatures.
Here Are Some Of The Probiotic Foods You Can Include In Your Diet
- Plain yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Fresh sauerkraut
- Apple cider vinegar
Some Of The Prebiotic Foods Are
It is very important to maintain a good and healthy gut. Apart from including probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet, there are few more things to consider. First, do not take any antibiotics without the consultation of a doctor. Of course, antibiotics kill unhealthy bacteria, but they also can destroy good bacteria in the gut. And never neglect your gut problems.
If you feel any issue with your gut, like an upset stomach or unusual bathroom habits, then make sure you consult a doctor and take primary care. Only then will you be free of stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. All the body systems are connected in one way or another. So we must keep a balance between all. Here you have seen how the gut and the brain are closely linked and how a change in one can affect the other. So the solution for a mentally fit body is a balanced microbiome.