Healthy practices such as eating a whole foods diet, getting regular exercise and being around the ones we love, can help us feel good. However, there is something else beneath the surface, which influences how we feel, trillions of tiny, microscopic things. Those tiny little things are microbiome, which is the diverse environment of microbes that are living in and on your body. The majority of bacteria in our body live in our gut. These gut bacteria play a major role in helping us to feel at the top of our game – both physically and emotionally.
The gut – mood connection
If you have ever had butterflies in your stomach before some important event or felt digestive upset during times of stress, you have actually received some signals from your “second brain.” This brain is nowhere near your head. In fact, it is located in your gut and it is a complex neural network, known as the enteric nervous system (ENS).
The complex system of approximately 100 million nerves is chemically, and structurally very similar to the brain in your head. Nevertheless, not just that, this second brain “talks” to your main brain with the help of the vagus nerve, through what is called the gut-brain axis.
Some experts even call this specialized communication system the microbiome-gut-brain axis, as of the crucial role that your gut microbes play in the conversation.
Through this axis, our gut microbes, as well as our brain are in constant chatter with one another. Like any good conversation, both of the sides contribute. Our gut microbes are receiving signals from our brain and vice versa. Consequently, if one side is off balance, the other is inevitably affected. If we can optimize the population of friendly microbes in our gut, it will optimize our mental and emotional function.
The gut-brain relationship could explain the connection, which exists between physical and emotional changes in our bodies. For instance, some research shows that it is uncommon to experience periodic anxiety, and low mood, or stress at the same time as gastrointestinal issues.
Luckily, we know that taking care of our gut microbes is a powerful place to begin when it comes to feeling our emotional best and keeping things chugging along at peak performance.
Happy microbes, happy mood
As our gut is a complex system, containing large amounts of immune, as well as endocrine and nerve cells, various things which affect our bodies – such as stress- are likely going to have an effect on our gut, which includes the trillions of microbes which live there and communicate with the brain.
Until recently, experts thought a low mood led to digestive problems, but there was new evidence showing it might be the other way around: signals coming from the gut microbes to the brain might be what steers the wheel when it comes to our emotions.
Understanding this special communication between our microbes and the brain is actually the first step toward greater mental, as well as emotional well – being. Now we know that a healthy gut full of good microbes can support a happier, as well as more energetic you.
In fact, researchers have found some probiotic strains, coined “psychobiotics,” can have a beneficial effect on emotional health:
- In one clinical study with healthy volunteers, researchers have found that subjects taking two specific probiotic strains for about 30 days, saw decreased bouts of stress, as well as reduced levels of cortisol (the primarily “stress” hormone).
- Twenty – two healthy adults that took the probiotic Bifidobacterium Longum for one month reported feeling less temporary stress and they also had lower levels of cortisol when they were under pressure than when they were taking the placebo.
- Those women that consumed fermented milk products with probiotics over four weeks showed some changes in their brain regions which control central processing of sensations and emotions.
The research is pretty clear, but how do products work their mood – enhancing magic? By producing, as well as regulating important neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA (the “calming” chemical), and cortisol, probiotics can also work together with your brain, in order to balance your mood.
Replenish your mood and your gut with probiotics
So, how do we go about cultivating a healthy gut, in order to live a happy life? When it comes to our microbiome, it is the balance of microbes which really matters. Ideally, our microbiome should consist of about 85% good guys and only 15% of the bad guys which can cause health and mood issues.
The problem actually is that a lot of common lifestyle factors – from diets full of processes, sugary foods to antibiotics, antibacterial cleaners, as well as environmental toxins – can actually deplete the beneficial bacteria we so desperately need to keep our emotions in check.
But, the great news is that you can take some simple, as well as practical steps in order to encourage a healthy gut and be sure that you are optimizing your mood – influencing microbial community and living a gut-healthy life:
Do not forget your probiotics.
Taking a daily, as well as high – quality, multi-strain probiotic (such as Hyperbiotics PRO-15), which is able to survive stomach acids, can actually help ensure your colonies of friendly flora, are thriving and in control. Remember to include fermented foods which are rich in probiotic like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, or coconut kefir. Fermentation can also be helpful in boosting the nutrient content of foods, leading to positive mental states from increased nutrient absorption.
Eat diverse whole foods, plant-based diet.
Eating a diet which is rich in a variety of whole foods can actually help you to support, as well as nourish the growth of probiotics in your gut. Whole foods like unrefined grains (including oats, millet, and quinoa) and fruits and vegetable, such as bananas, asparagus, and onions are particularly good for your gut, as they are rich in prebiotics, indigestible fibers whose have the purpose to feed, as well as nourish your friendly flora. An organic probiotic powder supplement is an easy way to provide your microbes with the prebiotic fuel that they actually need in order to really thrive.
Take some time to breathe.
You should factor in time daily for practices such as meditation, yoga or just simply focus on your breath. Mindfulness-based relaxation may also change your stress response to relaxation response, which can send calming signals to your gut, as well as promote wellness throughout your whole body.
The special connection which exists between our gut and our brain can actually have a tremendous impact on how we feel each and every day. Taking good care of our magnificent microbes, as well as focusing on living a life in harmony with our gut can help us feel our best in body and mind so that we can truly enjoy our happiest days.
Image Credit: Shutterstock (licensed)/By Anatomy Insider
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