Feeling Stressed? It’s Your Gut Brain Talking to You
If you’ve ever had “butterflies in your stomach” before a big event, you’re already aware there’s a relationship between your gut and your mind. We all use terms like “gut feeling” and “gut check”. And a lot of people who suffer from stress related conditions such as anxiety and depression also have chronic digestive problems.
Now you might already know that the human GI tract is home to trillions of bacterial cells that digest our food, regulate hormones that control fat and sugar metabolism as well as make important vitamins.
And if you’re familiar with probiotics you also know that these gut bacteria play a critical role in your immune system by keeping toxins out of our bloodstream and preventing inflammation.
But did you also know that your gut is lined with 100 million nerve cells, actually more than in the brain and spinal cord combined. Yes – we actually have brain cells in our intestines!
And this “Gut Brain” plays a huge role in the production of critical neurotransmitters that directly affect our mood, concentration, stress and anxiety levels. Ninety percent of serotonin, the chemical linked to depression and happiness, is produced in our digestive tract. And so is GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine all responsible for mood, anxiety, depression and concentration.
In other words, we have our own built in pharmacy for mental health in our digestive tract. But normal functioning of these mood enhancing chemicals is dependent on the healthy bacteria population in our gut.
Stress and low quality eating disrupts the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut (aka gut dysbiosis) which disrupts brain chemistry and alters mood and emotional health.
At the same time, the gut dysbiosis creates a stress response in the body that activates inflammation which impacts the central nervous system and also causes symptoms of anxiety and depression – not to mention of course that inflammation increases risk for most diseases, including obesity.
Another excellent reason to incorporate more wholesome, plant centered foods in your eating and make stress reduction a priority.
Bottom line, your gut is literally the CORE of your health.
Taking care of those little buggers is key to living a healthier, happier life!