The gut-brain connection

Did you know that scientists call our gut “the second brain”, Why? Because there is constant messaging going on between the brain and the gut, so if the brain is stressed out, guess what? The gut is going to suffer. And if the gut's out of balance, then that passes on to the brain!

In fact, many psychological illnesses are frequently experienced alongside GI-related comorbidities, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The gut communicates with the brain through nerve connections, hormones, cytokines, neurotransmitters, and certain metabolites. Both directly and indirectly, the health of the GI tract plays an essential role in the health of the brain.

So what do we do about making sure our gut-brain connection is working well and sending positive messages?

Lets look at some natural solutions

1. Manage your stress

  • Prioritize your sleep

  • Meditate / deep breathing / mindfulness (often people with anxiety and depression have the most success with these practices)

  • Chew more – try to chew until the food is liquid before swallowing

  • Make more time to do things that you love

  • Get some therapy – there are lots of specialist practitioners that can support you with emotional issues

  • Assess your relationship with your phone/computer

2. Eat a gut friendly diet

  • Reduce sugar, refined carbs, processed foods to reduce any stress on your digestion

  • Try eliminating gluten and/or dairy for a few weeks to see if they are a potential stressor for you

  • Limit alcohol

  • Eat diverse and colourful veggies every day – fill half your plate

  • Probiotic foods – including live natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi

  • Prebiotic foods – including onions, leeks, garlic, cold potatoes, green bananas

  • Good fats – including olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish – avoid vegetable oils

  • Try Apple Cider Vinegar and/or digestive enzymes to aid digestion

  • Hydration – drink 2L of fluids per day

3. Minimise toxins

  • Eat organic where possible to avoid pesticides

  • Reduce plastic – switch to glass or stainless steel water bottles and food containers (whatever you do, don't heat plastic in the oven or microwave)

  • Switch to natural products – including cleaning, laundry and personal products to avoid synthetic fragrances

4. Move

  • Take regular breaks from sitting – set an alarm to get up and move, walk or get some water

  • Walk more, especially in nature – this helps reduce stress and boost your mood

  • Don't over-exercise if it depletes your energy – this is a sign that your energy reserves are low and you need to prioritize them

  • Try yoga and pilates for reducing stress – also great for strength, flexibility, mood and bone health!

Now, if you do all of this and still have symptoms, you may need to dig a bit deeper to see if there's an underlying infection or imbalance, which you won't know about unless you do more testing.

Need support? Contact me.

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