Gut & Brain Connection
Emotions slightly out of whack, feeling tired and depressed, do you feel like your brain is not quite working, in ability to focus, poor memory-yep I have been there and I’m sorry I did not remember your name!!
Ever feel like that? I certainly have and if you are honest, I bet many of you can relate.
But did you know that it may be more than just your brain involved? The problem may very likely be connected with your gut and microbiome.
Your brain is part of a system that includes the gut and microbiome (the bacteria that populates your digestive tract) and if this is compromised, your brain will suffer.
So how are they connected?
Neurotransmitters: Your gut actually produces neurotransmitters such as serotonin (often called the happy chemical!), dopamine, GABA and many others and these biochemicals that your brain needs to process emotion and thought!
Did you know that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut!!
Neurons: Did you know that there are actually more neurons in the gut than in your spinal cord! These send messages to the neurons in the brain in addition to being responsible for digesting food and absorbing nutrients.
Immune system: An estimate 70% of your immune system in in your gut! So, if there is an imbalance in the bacteria in the microbiome, inflammation may occur throughout the body and this can cause neuroinflammation which can lead to negative thoughts and emotions!!
Genes: Bacteria in the gut can influence gene expression- whether a gene is turned on or off. In this way, a healthy microbiome may help to suppress certain genetic tendency to suffer from anxiety, dementia, depression.
Research has shown that those with gut issues can actually perceive pain more intensely than others as their brains are more responsive to the pain signals from the gut.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, we have ways to nourish and optimize this interconnected system!
1) Prebiotics: Essentially a non-digestible high fiber compound that is source of fuel for the good bacteria in the gut. Some good food sources are raw or cooked onions, asparagus, garlic, legumes, nuts and seeds, raw dandelion leaves- yes those weeds in your garden, well my garden anyway!! Lol!!
2) Fermented foods: Rich in friendly bacteria- such as kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut. I would suggest goat’s milk or sheep milk as many people are sensitive to dairy these days.
3) Probiotics: You will get these in the fermented foods but sometimes a supplement may be necessary. Two strains are particularly effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression- Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus so make sure you are getting these!