Gut Feelings: Exploring the Link Between Digestion and Mental Health

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

The connection between the mind and the body has long been recognized, that is why it is important to mention, for example, the link between our mental health and gut. It turns out that the gut, often referred to as the “second brain”, plays a crucial role in our overall wellbeing, influencing everything from mood to behavior to immune function and disease risk.  

According to Harvard Health Medical School [1] , “the gut-brain connection is no joke; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation -all these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.”

The director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, Jay Pasricha, M.D [2] ., considers that, “it’s main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination”. The same source [3] , affirms, “scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it is not so little. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.”

The blog Atlas [4]  gives us “9 ways gut bacteria and mental health, probiotics and depression are linked: The vagus nerve connects your gut and your brain; gut bacteria talk to your brain too; inflammation, gut bacteria, and depression; gut bacteria make butyrate for brain health; probiotics may help alleviate depression; eat probiotics to nourish probiotic bacteria; gut microbes regulate happy hormones; your microbiome composition and mental health are linked, and balance is the key to happy gut bacteria.”

How to improve your gut health and mental health [5]?

  • After a meal, it is important to be in a relaxed state to produce the gastric juices needed to absorb food.
  • Eat healthy snacks and meals and stay away from junk food.
  • Scheduling some exercise time can encourage you to work out.
  • Aim to drink between six and eight glasses of water a day to boost the digestive process.
  • Seek help.

In conclusion, the connection between gut and mental health is a fascinating and complex topic that continues to be the subject of ongoing research. From practicing good digestive habits to optimizing our diets and managing stress, there are many practical strategies we can use to promote optimal gut and mental health. 







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