The Connection Between Gut Health and Mental Health
For decades, the relationship between our brain and our body was little understood. This is especially true for the relationship between your mental health and your gut. You know the phrase “butterflies in your stomach” or “going with your gut”? The intestinal system is sensitive to emotional changes, and this becomes obvious when we start to look at all the ways, that your mental state can affect your digestive system, and vice versa.
Research done by Harvard Medical School suggests that your psychological state can have a huge effect on your digestive tract. Nausea before a presentation and lack of appetite when you’re feeling anxious are just two examples of ways that your psychological state can affect your digestive system. That is not to say that genuine syndromes in your gut can all be attributed to your mental state; far from it. The research merely suggests that in moments of heightened mental distress, it can affect our bodies in much more far-reaching ways that simply affecting our mood.
On the other side of the spectrum, though, research at Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that it’s the other way around. Our digestive system affects our mental state, rather than the opposite as suggested by Harvard. Their research suggests that the enteric nervous system (ENS) – that’s the two layers of cells that line your intestinal tract – may have a greater effect on our mood than ever thought before. These cells may, when irritated, send signals to your central nervous system that can trigger changes in mood and attitude. That may be why individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive distress report higher levels of depression and anxiety than those with regular digestive movements.
So, with these conflicting reports from reputable sources, what does that mean for us? Well, whether you believe that digestive distress causes emotional turbulence or the other way around, it’s important to listen to your body. If you’re not feeling well, don’t chalk it up to your mental state causing your gut to do something funky. Always go to your doctor if you’re not feeling sure; it may be nothing, but it could also be something important. At the end of the day, you know your body the best. Take care of it! Health is on the inside and that is why we offer a wide range of vitamins and supplements that can help alleviate some of the stress caused by an unhealthy gut.
Here are our top 5 probiotics recommendations:
- UP4: Ultra Probiotics with DDS-1 50 billion CFU
- SMARTYPANTS: Probiotic Adult Lemon Crème
- RAINBOW LIGHT: ProBio Active 1 Billion Defense
- NATROL: Probiotics Well Belly
- OLLY: Probiotic Tropical Mango Supplement
Another thing to remember is that probiotics are great at keeping the gut healthy, but they aren’t the end all. Keep eating healthy and don’t hesitate to enhance your immune health with other supplements like vitamin C, or even a multivitamin.