For years, we’ve been told that “we are what we eat” or that everything we put into our bodies matters. Our digestive system, our gut health, our microbiome – whatever you want to call it – plays such a major role in how efficiently our mental health functions, and I feel like this information is pretty important for the common public to have.
Our brain’s neurodevelopment depends on adequate communication from our gut’s microbiome – meaning our moods can be directly correlated to our gut health. Have you ever wondered why and how chocolate is an aphrodisiac? We eat chocolate and it makes us feel good, right? But it goes deep than that! We know that our digestive tract is meant to be its own environmental basis of processes to keep the human body functioning with calories, nutrients, and such. Our bodies also require maintenance, which requires us to ensure we’re eating proper foods tailored to our own personal needs. Sometimes, certain hormones or antibodies may increase or decrease and we notice that we feel off, sick, or just weird. These are examples of why gut health is important.
A large function of our immune system lies within the digestive system, essentially our gut. Our gut is also how we metabolize foods, medications, or anything we introduce to our bodies orally. Whatever we ingest, gets processed and metabolized by being absorbed through the intestine, stomach, or liver into our bloodstream and to our brain (and throughout our body). If we take acetaminophen for a headache, we get relief from its metabolization in our stomach and release its chemical properties to our bloodstream which leads to our brain. The same concept happens with our food! Are you following me now?
From a therapeutic standpoint, if we can get our gut health lined up with our needs, then it sets us up for success from that point forward.
Some research has shown that there is a connection between gut health and mental health as people with disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or Schizophrenia have specific markers that show GI inflammation or other issues. In a separate study, it was found that probiotics decreased the likelihood of manic relapse in bipolar disorder patients.
It’s a new concept to consider, but it is a concept that has research to prove there is a valid connection. It’s just going to take time to get people to understand how we can use this knowledge to improve public health knowledge altogether.
Check out the links below for more information based on gut health and mental health: