Find Out How Gut Health is Linked to the Brain

December 14, 2023

Find Out How Gut Health is linked to the Brain

We have so many phrases to describe our emotions based on our tummies. Think about it – you can have a gut feeling, a sinking feeling in your gut, feel gutted, have a gut-wrenching feeling, have a gut response, and have butterflies in your tummy. You get the picture. As rational beings, we know our brains are in charge of how we feel. But then why do we have so many phrases that link our tummies to them? It warrants a bit of thought. Scientists and researchers have been thinking about the relationship between our guts and brains too, with some very interesting results.

The Gut Brain Connection

While the brain is the big honcho, the digestive system has its own local nervous system called the enteric nervous system (ENS) – kind of like a branch manager for that part of the body. While the ENS is not capable of cognitive thought as we know it, it plays a huge role in major processes like immune response, nutrient detection, among many others. As a good manager should, the ENS is constantly in contact with the (pardon the pun!) head office – the brain – to let it know what’s going on and vice versa. If there’s anything amiss, they let each other know.  A simple example of this communication is when your tummy goes for a toss when you’re nervous, or you could get stressed out when there’s something wrong with your stomach.

Microbes in the Gut and Their Effects on Mental Health

Our digestive tract contains a whole ecosystem of microbes that we are just beginning to understand. Various bacteria help our bodies by helping us digest what we eat and by synthesizing nutrients that we cannot. An imbalance in these bacteria can result in nutritional deficiencies or conditions like IBS or other inflammatory conditions like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

Serotonin is vital to a multitude of body functions like mood, sleep, digestion, sexual desire, bone health and a whole lot more. With a majority of the body’s serotonin produced in the digestive tract, it’s not surprising that studies have found that various gut bacteria play a role in regulating serotonin levels. In fact, changes in the composition of gut bacteria have been known to have effect on a number of different mental illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases including:

  • Anxiety, anhedonia, and depression
  • Stress
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease

How the presence or absence of microbes in our digestive systems affects our emotional health is a new and exciting branch of science. The term ‘psychobiotics’ is now used for microbe-based interventions that have a beneficial effect on the human brain. To put it simply, science is now looking at treating mental health illnesses by treating the human body holistically instead of focusing on it the neck up.

Naturopathy and Gut Health

Naturopathy accepts the interconnectedness between our various systems to treat diseases of the mind and body holistically. Any good naturopath will try to understand your state of mind while treating a physical illness and vice versa.

A Naturopathic Gut Rebuilding Program offers a way to start rebuilding your gut health through a variety of natural interventions.

Diet:

Your diet plays an important role in gut bacterial health. A Mediterranean diet, for example, has been known to reduce stress levels. It includes foods that are high in fiber and vegetables – things the bacteria in your gut love.

Probiotics:

Another great way to replenish your gut health is through probiotics. They help replenish your normal microbial balance to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Their anti-inflammatory properties also help in reducing discomfort in the digestive tract, making you feel healthier overall.

Individual Treatment:

An important factor in naturopathy is the tenet that no two people are exactly alike. Similar symptoms in one individual may have a completely different root cause to similar symptoms in another. A naturopath will treat you as an individual, your symptoms and help you find the root cause of your illness.

Dr. Ibby’s Repair, Restore, Balance Gut Rebuilding Program

Dr. Ibby’s Repair, Restore, Balance Gut Rebuilding Program is designed to help you understand your gut health better. Based on evidence-based science, every aspect of the program is tailored to your individual needs and your body to help bring your life back to what it should be.

Your gut and brain talk to each other. Help make the conversation flow better. Sign up for a virtual wellness consult or book your in-person appointment in Ontario today.

Book Your Free 15-min Consultation with a Registered Naturopathic Doctor in Burlington, Ontario!
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