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What Is The Connection Of Our Gut And Mental Health?

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Payal Kothari shares a few tips on how to improve your gut health and simultaneously your mental health.

If you are always irritated, exhausted, forgetful, zoned out and even confused, then these mental health symptoms are pointing out to, you have related gut issues! Your gut majorly emotionally and physically contributes to your anxiety, nervousness and even depression. Your gut has a 100 trillion bacteria inside producing enzymes and hormones for your body distributing it to the brain and the rest of your body. A dysbiosis of these microbes is the cause of simple and chronic illnesses not just physical but also phycological.

There is a two directional pathway, the gut-brain Axis that connects the gut to the brain which is neglected and not spoken of. The gut has its own enteric nervous system – ENS, which is in charge of signalling the brain through the GBA – the gut brain axis. All the fight and flight responses lay in your gut. Feeling low, irritated and always angry can be due to an inflamed gut. When you sometimes experience gut wrenching, gut feelings/gut instincts in your stomach it is your emotions sending signals to the gut via the GBA where lay a matrix of neurons and messengers sending out signals back and forth from the gut to the brain and vice versa. Everything that you eat and feel, your thoughts and emotions affect the gut and directly affect your mental health.

When you sometimes experience gut wrenching, gut feelings/gut instincts in your stomach it is your emotions sending signals to the gut via the GBA where lay a matrix of neurons and messengers sending out signals back and forth from the gut to the brain and vice versa.

Just like your brain has a central nervous system – ENS. Nothing goes unnoticed by the GBA either about your gut or brain. They are always communicating with each other like best friends. Mental wellness depends a lot on gut wellness. If there is a leaky gut or inflammation in the gut, it will affect your moods, your motivation and happiness. The gut also produces 70/80 percent of serotonin, the happiness hormone which can be compromised if the gut is unwell, or too acidic or leaky. Many symptoms can be related to gut disorders like, bloating, heart burn, abdominal cramps, IBS, always tired, constipation, cystic acne, diabetes, thyroid and even cancer can be related to your gut health. Your GBA is sending out irritated and volatile signals to the brain which can lead to instability and mental health collapsed scenario. A leaky gut due to stress, antibiotics, excessive gluten, refined sugars and hydrogenated oils is a disaster for the gut and brain leading to a leaky brain as well. The membrane that protects the brain lets compromised causing brain fog, depression, Alzheimer’s  and even dementia.

Since mental wellness is compromised due to gut illness, here are a few tips to improve your gut health and simultaneously your mental health.

  • Minimize gluten – gluten which has the protein zonulin in excess is damaging and can cause a leaky gut syndrome (mentally affects you) Chose naturally gluten-free grains.
  • Avoid refined sugars like bagels, sodas, waffles, coffees and sugar loaded desserts like cakes, mithais and ice-creams in excess. Limit it to once a week only.
  • Eat good fats! Unsaturated fats are good for your gut and brain. Good fats like avocado, nuts, olive oil, ghee, cold compressed coconut oil are brain and gut foods.
  • Eat probiotics and prebiotics – these are foods for your microbes – gut bacteria, microbiome. Yogurt, flax seeds, ginger, garlic, carrots, whole grains, fruits and coconut water are food for your bacteria, so eat them.
  • Along with food, cardio-vascular fitness, yoga and meditation are very effective to help you deal with any mental illness and can motivate you, by releasing feel good hormones and get your mental wellness humming.
  • Hydrate – last but not the least! Drink water and allow the lymphatic system and colon detox and cleanse. A happy colon is a happy brain.

The article is written by Payal Kothari who is an Integrative Nutritionist and Gut Health Coach and author of the book The Gut. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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