when we think about symptoms of poor gut health, we usually think of bloating, constipation, and indigestion. but did you know signs of an imbalanced gut can show up outside of symptoms related to our stomach? our gut plays a huge role in mental and emotional health, and any gut issues certainly can present themselves as mental health symptoms! studies have emerged showing the extreme connection here called the “gut-brain axis,” highlighting the impact gut health has on our mental well-being.
here, we’re exploring this connection and diving into how maintaining a healthy gut can positively impact our mental health.
the gut microbiota
the gut is home to an incredibly diverse ecosystem of microorganisms referred to as the gut microbiota. these microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, play a huge role in maintaining our overall health. the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota can be influenced by factors such as diet, stress levels, medications, and environmental exposures.
impact of gut health on mental health
- neurotransmitter production - the gut microbiota produce a range of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (gaba). these chemicals are crucial for regulating mood, emotions, and cognitive function. approximately 90% of serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in the gut. an imbalance in the gut microbiota can affect neurotransmitter production, potentially leading to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
- gut barrier / leaky gut - the gut lining acts as a barrier, allowing good nutrients to flow in and keeping the bad disruptors out. when the gut barrier is harmed, a condition known as "leaky gut" can occur, allowing toxins and bacteria to enter the bloodstream. this triggers an immune response and increases inflammation, which has been linked to mental health conditions such as depression and cognitive decline.
- communication pathways - the gut and the brain communicate through several pathways, including the vagus nerve, immune system, and the production of various signaling molecules. this communication allows the gut microbiota to influence brain function and behavior. when our gut health is suffering, these pathways are disrupted which can lead to mental health issues since those signals aren’t being sent properly.
- inflammation and immune activation - inflammation is a symptom of poor gut health, where our body is telling us something is wrong. this has detrimental impacts on mental health because it imbalances our neurotransmitters.
better gut health = better mental health!
maintaining a healthy gut is key for optimal mental health. here are some strategies to keep your gut top tier:
- balanced diet with nutrient variety - make sure you’re eating enough calories overall + enough of the right macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbs. include plenty of different fruits and veggies for micronutrients + fiber (beam’s super greens gives you 25 different fruits + veggies per serving!)
- manage stress - stress is one of the biggest factors causing gut issues. make sure you’re getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating enough to fuel your body - lack of these things add to stress on our body! engage in stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing, walking outside, journaling, and spending time with loved ones.
- probiotics and prebiotics - probiotics are live bacteria that strengthen the resilience of our gut microbiome, while prebiotics are dietary fibers that nourish beneficial gut bacteria. probiotics feed on the prebiotics, so we need both for a healthy gut! beam’s got the perfect duo to cover you here - gut health probiotic+ with 8 different probiotic strains, digestive enzymes, ginger root and licorice root to enhance your microbiome, plus super greens to provide those prebiotic fibers!
so our gut and mental health work hand in hand! follow these tips above to optimize your gut, and you’ll notice differences in every area of your body 🙂