THE LINK BETWEEN MENTAL HEALTH AND GUT HEALTH
The gut and the brain are in constant communication. Here we explain how, though this section gets a bit technical.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the series of organs that that manage the journey everything we eat and drink; food and liquids travel through when they’re swallowed, digested, nutrients absorbed and finally leave the body as waste.
Located within the GI tract is the enteric nervous system, which controls the function of the GI and communicates with the brain via the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear when we face stressful situations, triggering our “fight or flight” response. Then, when we feel we’re out of danger, the parasympathetic nervous system works to calm the body down, sometimes called “rest and digest”.
This is why, when we experience negative emotions the GI tract can speed up or slow down, making the digestive system overly sensitive to bloating, changing the gut microbiota and more. Some great ways to decrease anxiety and mitigate these symptoms include meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises and yoga. Source: Harvard Health Publishing.
And to top it all off, 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut . Serotonin is the chemical in our bodies that helps with sleeping, eating and digesting, and is also considered a natural mood stabiliser. While we can’t diet our way out of depression, some research suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet may help with our mental health.