Kristen Anderson, Guest
We have all heard the old adage “you are what you eat”, but science is discovering even more of a connection between our digestive tract and our overall health.
Commonly referred to as “gut health”, the gut microbiota, which consist of trillions of microbes, may influence more than bowel regularity and metabolism. These bacterium make up a 6-pound ecosystem inside of every human and produce hormones, communicate directly with our brain via the vagus nerve, and can even produce neurochemicals which influence behavior. Stomach bacteria and mood are connected in ways we never knew before, and scientists are racing to learn more about this fascinating discovery.
A team of Norwegian scientists recently found significant correlation between certain bacteria and symptoms of depression. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome have been found to have significantly higher instances of anxiety and depression. Even individuals with autism are more likely to suffer from digestive problems. By improving our gut health, we may be able to get a handle on a host of somatic and mental health symptoms.
It has been suggested that gut microbes have as powerful of an effect on the brain as psychiatric drugs. Millions of patients are prescribed drugs every year to address somatic and emotional symptoms who might be better treated by simply improving gut health.
There are good and bad bacteria in your gut. Certain foods feed the good bacteria and others feed the bad. Good bacteria are often called probiotics. You can eat certain foods to feed probiotics and you can also take probiotic supplements to increase your probiotic population. When you have too many bad bacteria, you become sick and an antibiotic can kill the bad bacteria that is causing you problems. But antibiotics also kill the good bacteria, which can create a host of negative side effects including decreased mood.
There are 4 simple things that you can do to improve your gut health:
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