To Good (Gut) Health and Happiness

Ever heard the expression ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’? Or been told to trust your gut? According to some evidence from nutrition and physiology researchers, these old idioms might actually have some grounding in science. It’s not just as simple as feeling low when you’ve got a sore tummy, or when your gut is heaving after a particularly big night, either. Rather, it’s to do with the little community living in your digestive system.


Your digestive support system

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria in thousands of different species and strains. Scientists already know about many of these strains and their functions in relation to our health.

You may have heard of ‘good bacteria’ vs ‘bad bacteria’, or enjoyed a probiotic snack from time to time, without really thinking about much but the flavour. For example, lactobacillus is a genus that’s found in yogurt and other probiotic dairy products. It’s generally recognised as helpful for preventing overgrowth of pathogens, because its metabolic by-products (i.e. lactic acid) inhibit their growth.i

What’s particularly interesting, though, is the study of how all these organisms work together. Each part of the body, and the body as a whole, operates as a complex microbiome. This means that, like in an ecosystem of plants and animals, they compete and/or work together with your body and with each other in various ways. For example, one species might produce waste products that the others thrive in, whilst another might help break down something the human body can’t digest as efficiently by itself.ii That’s why it’s important to get the right balance of gut flora; not too much of any one species.

From somatic to psychological

So how does your gut health affect your mental health? Well, it all starts with the two-way connection between the gut and the brain.iii To put it simply, the brain sends signals to the gut to tell it what to do, and the gut sends responses back via the sympathetic nervous system. In other words, whatever’s going on in your gut, the nervous system will pick up on.

There are some things that can happen in your gut, such as an overgrowth of bad bacteria, which the brain reads as a cause for stress. It will then automatically respond by flooding your system with hormones that are meant to protect you, but which can cause anxiety and depression over time.

What does this mean for most people?

Your physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. That’s why it’s so important to take a holistic approach to your health. Seeking complementary treatment and dietary advice could be a great way to get you back to feeling your best. Plus – what’s not to love about all those delicious gut-friendly foods?!

3 things you can do to boost your gut health

Remember to include prebiotics in your diet.
They’re the things your gut needs to prep for good bacteria to thrive. Think non-digestible fibre, found in bran, wholegrains, and green veggies.

Try to incorporate food containing probiotics in your meals.
These include foods like yogurt, green peas, sauerkraut, kombucha, sourdough bread and even dark chocolate.

As a safety net, consider taking a probiotic supplement – especially when you’re feeling physically under the weather, or if you’ve had to take antibiotics recently.





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