Is Your Gut Driving You Crazy?
Gut-Brain Axis: Is Your Gut Driving You Crazy?
When I ask the question, “Is your gut driving you crazy?”, I’m not talking about bloating or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (If you’d like to find out more about IBS, go to this blog post: Hypnotherapy Can Control IBS) . I’m literally talking about how your gut impacts your mental wellbeing. May I introduce to you the Gut-Brain Axis? There is now strong speculation that even schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may be associated with changes in our gut microbiome.
To be honest, it is a bit of a scary thought, but it reminds me of the old saying “You are what you eat”.
Gut-Brain Axis – The Connection Between The Gut And The Brain
The connection between our gut and our brain is called the Gut-Brain Axis. Scientists love their axes, there are also the gut-lung axis, the gut-kidney axis and the gut-skin axis. What they have all in common is the influence the bacteria in our gut (also called microbiome) have on another organ. But let’s stick with the Gut-Brain Axis.
The Gut-Brain Axis is actually very complex and involves quite a few factors.
- We have nerves that tap directly into our gut, sense how it feels and feed back to our brain.
- Inflammation in the gut (due to infection, chemotherapy or even diet) can cause inflammatory messengers to travel to the brain and cause inflammation there as well.
- The gut itself can synthesise neurotransmitters that can also influence brain function.
What that means is that our gut has a variety of ways in which it can change how our brain works. This has not only an impact on our mood, but also on our ability to concentrate, to learn, how we relate to other people and our environment and the list goes on.
In turn, our brain also impacts on how our gut works, so it can get quite messy with information going backwards and forwards. Hence why so often people with anxiety also have gut issues.
So what can you do to help you Gut-Brain Axis?
The key is to change your gut bacteria to a healthier mix. And in the gut, variety is king. The more different types of bacteria you have the better your health. We can achieve this in a variety of ways:
Probiotics are still the sexy kid on the block. Lots of people are taking them and there are specific strains that help to improve your mental health. However, probiotics are bacteria themselves and as such living things. Living things need food. Bring in the new favourite: Prebiotics
Prebiotics are foods and supplements that feed the microbiome. These are mainly indigestible carbohydrates that move own in your intestinal tract to be used by bacteria in your gut as food. Some great prebiotic food sources are
- Brown rice
Recent studies have shown the large influence that the diet has on depression. One of the best diets overall is the Mediterranean Diet. It can significantly improve depression. The hallmarks of the Mediterranean Diet are its great variety of plant foods, that it is very colourful and includes lots of prebiotics and fibre. Our gut microbiome loves all these things.
If you want to look after your mental health, I suggest having a healthy diet, based on the Mediterranean Principles. Feel free to e-mail me for a brochure outlining the principles of the Mediterranean Diet and some sample recipes. Click here to get in touch.