Our gut and mental health have huge effects on our entire body, some of which may totally surprise you. From our general mood and cell functioning, all the way to energy levels and overall performance, the food we eat and our mentality and mental health is hugely influential. After all, as the old saying goes, you are what you eat, and this is completely true. But why?
The importance of mental health
There's no health without mental health, that's a fact. If your mental health is in decline, everything else can start to slip - so it's incredibly important that you dedicate time to nurturing it - whether that's by setting aside some well deserved me-time, making positive dietary changes, taking some time out from social media or even just going to bed earlier to relax and get a little bit more sleep.
Research has shown that around 14% of global health issues can be attributed directly to the effects of poor mental health, and with the recent year of lockdowns, lifestyle changes and constant adaptations to the 'new normal', there's a good chance that unfortunately, this number could be on the rise.
It's key to take care of yourself, take care of others and really prioritise your wellbeing. If you don't take a break when you can, your body will take a break when you need to - and that time won't be convenient, we can tell you that.
The importance of gut health
Our gut is really, really complex. More complex than you might think, and more complex than biologists thought for a very long time. This is because of the effect our gut functioning has on our overall health and performance - heart health, mental health, digestive health - you name it, our gut has a part to play in it.
What Makes A Healthy Gut?
The science of a healthy gut is a mix of healthy bacteria that work together to fight off viruses, get rid of nasty foods and maintain the smooth running of our gastrointestinal system. One way to improve your gut health is through your diet, so it's important to ensure you are eating well prepared, highly nutritional foods to ensure your gut is happy and healthy.
If you're struggling to maintain a healthy gut, or perhaps you suffer from intestinal discomfort or issues, we wholeheartedly recommend trying out The Digest Capsules. Formulated to support a healthy gut and improve your digestion, our capsules contain health goodies such as Acacia Fibre, Ginger Root and Probiotics and Prebiotics to keep your gut happy.
We also recently spoke to nutritionists Drew Price and Kim Pearson and asked them for the low down on all things prebiotics and probiotics to find out how these supplements can help you. So, if you're looking to make some positive dietary changes but need a little bit of persuasion, check out our chat with the experts.
How are gut health and mental health linked?
Our understanding of the link between gut health and mental health stems from the linkage between stress and correlational gut impact. We've all been there before, right? You're stressed about an upcoming exam, a big meeting at work or maybe a first date... cue the funny tummy or loss of appetite. Great.
But with more advanced research, it quickly became clear that there was a much deeper rooted link than these initial correlations. This lead to discover a concept often referred to as the 'gut-brain axis', which refers to this connection. Researchers have found that our gut bacteria doesn't just regulate our normal gut function, but produces nutrients such as serotonin (as well as digesting this micronutrient through food sources), which plays a huge part in the regulation of our mood. But what is serotonin, and where does it come from?
Serotonin: what is it?
To put it simply, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends messages around the body. It is also the key hormone responsible for stabilising our mood, so it's pretty integral that our levels of serotonin stay healthy. Too much and you might experience some nerves and jitters, but too little and you run the risk of throwing off your brain's natural chemical balance, which could lead to some pretty nasty side effects for your mental health.
How Does Serotonin Help?
Serotonin isn't just responsible for the stabilisation of our mood. The neurotransmitter has some pretty important users too, including:
- Increases our happiness levels
- Improves your sleep
- Regulates serotonin levels
- Helps control bowel movements
- Controls nausea
Overall, it's clear that our gut health and our mental health are hugely important not only just individually, but in unison, too. So if you've noticed that your diet is slipping into unhealthy territory, or you're struggling with your mental heath, this Mental Health Awareness Week (and every other week after that), from everyone here at Team Innermost, stay safe, look after yourselves and keep healthy!
PS. If you're looking for some inspiration for some food pairings to improve your gut health too - look no further, we've got you covered here.
- Foster, J. A., & Neufeld, K. A. M. (2013). Gut–brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends in neurosciences, 36(5), 305-312. Click here.
- Huerta-Franco, M. R., Vargas-Luna, M., Tienda, P., Delgadillo-Holtfort, I., Balleza-Ordaz, M., & Flores-Hernandez, C. (2013). Effects of occupational stress on the gastrointestinal tract. World journal of gastrointestinal pathophysiology, 4(4), 108. Click here.
- Kim, D. Y., & Camilleri, M. (2000). Serotonin: a mediator of the brain-gut connection. The American journal of gastroenterology, 95(10), 2698. Click here.
- Prince, M., Patel, V., Saxena, S., Maj, M., Maselko, J., Phillips, M. R., & Rahman, A. (2007). No health without mental health. The lancet, 370(9590), 859-877. Click here.