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
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
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.