When you think of your mental health you likely instantly think of the brain as the area of your body to focus on. Whilst that’s of course correct, it’s important to understand how other areas of your health and lifestyle can impact your mental health or the links between your brain and your gut.
The digestion system is one of the most important mechanisms in the body. Did you know that a healthy digestive system not only relates to conditions such as IBS, indigestion and bloating but also has a significant impact on your mood, sleep and skin?
The gut has been referred to as an ‘organ of the mind’ by scholar Elizabeth A Wilson. She has pioneered research into the ‘gut-brain axis’ which challenges the notion that mental health is solely psychological and is in fact a combination of physical and psychological.
Her research suggests a connection between the gut and the brain, whereby microbes in our intestines have the ability to modify our brain and as a result, impact our mood.
How are the brain and the gut linked?
Have you ever experienced that ‘hanrgy’ feeling? When you’re hungry, you become irritable.
Or when you’re nervous about something, you might feel that you need to use the bathroom more frequently or feel nauseous. Or when you’re excited about something you might get butterflies.
But of course, it’s more complicated than that but these are accessible ways to describe the intricate link and the ways in which our GI (Gastrointestinal) system interacts with our brain and our hormones.
It is not uncommon for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, to occur alongside a gut problem. For example, there are links between IBS and anxiety.
There is growing research in this area to gain a deeper understanding of how our gut and brain interact, further paving the way for a more holistic approach to both physical and psychological conditions. This research hopefully offers some comfort to those who may have encountered a ‘It’s all in your mind’ response to their condition.
Those with gut disorders often perceive pain more acutely than others as their brains are more responsive from pain signals from the gut, which is why treatment which not only focuses on nutrition but also the mind, is more suitable to manage these conditions. This reiterates the need for good nutrition, regular exercise and a well-cared for mind.
The way I work with clients is not to focus on one individual health complaint but to restore and re-establish the health of the gut and its microbiome overall, resulting in a better foundation to improve health and wellness.
If you’d like to learn more about why your Gut Microbiome is the key to your overall health, from improving your immune system to your mental and physical health, click here to book a 30 minute free consultation.