We all have times when we feel sad, grumpy or irritable. In most cases, these feelings are a result of things happening around us. When our circumstances change, so do our feelings.
But sometimes feel down or depressed for no apparent reason – and it doesn’t go away. This could be a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain. While that may not surprise you, this will: that chemical imbalance could be related to your gut health.
Research has shown that there is a powerful link between your gut health and your nervous system. This link has now shed light on many issues related to mood and mental health.
There is substantial evidence that the lining of your gastrointestinal tract has a direct influence on your brain, and that that your gut is very sensitive to emotions.
Whether you’re angry, sad, anxious or elated, you’ll feel it in your gut. And in the same way, your gut has a direct effect on the hormones and neurotransmitters that dictate your mood. (1)
If you have any of the following mood-related symptoms, poor gut health could be to blame:
Scientists have discovered that the link between your brain and your gut is bi-directional; that is, it goes both ways.
Any stress or emotional upheaval you’re going through can affect your digestion. In the same way, if your gut is imbalanced (perhaps due to a bacterial or yeast overgrowth) your mood will suffer. Intestinal distress has been linked to anxiety, stress, and depression.
This is all related to the health of your gut microbiome. You microbiome is the diverse population of intestinal bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract. It includes thousands of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacterial species. ‘Good’ bacteria are the beneficial type that help to prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts, which can disrupt normal functioning.
Research shows that an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut can lead to gut inflammation, intestinal permeability, and poor bacterial diversity. (2)
But an overgrowth of unhealthy microorganisms in your gut doesn’t just cause digestive symptoms. That imbalance of bacteria also has a powerful effect on your brain.
Neuropsychologists now believe that severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychological or neurological problems may be directly related to imbalances of the gut microbiome.
Some researchers have suggested that people who suffer gut infections early in childhood could later be predisposed to mental health issues such as depression due to the negative effects on the mucosal membrane in their GI tract.
Inflammation to these delicate tissues can disrupt the sensitive gut-brain axis and hamper normal brain development. (3)
Another way that poor gut health affects your mood is to do with serotonin.
Serotonin is one of your ‘happy chemicals’ that are required for good mood and healthy sleeping patterns.
Around 90% of your serotonin receptors are located in your gut, which has major implications for how your diet and nutritional status can affect your emotions.
You see, the serotonin made in your gut is structurally similar to the serotonin in the brain; it’s just made in a different place by different cells. If your gut microbiome is fighting an overgrowth of bad bacteria, its ability to make enough serotonin will be severely affected.
In fact, a recent study involving mice showed that low serotonin in the neurons of the gut can lead to physical symptoms such as constipation. And low levels of serotonin in your brain can lead to anxiety, sleeplessness and depression. (4)
What’s even more interesting is that the researchers in this particular study were able to alleviate both the physical and emotional symptoms in the mice by giving them a treatment that raised their serotonin in their gut and brain. (5)
If you frequently suffer from low mood, anxiety or depression, it’s time to pay attention to your gut.
Gastrointestinal infections, yeast overgrowth, and other causes of dysbiosis can have a catastrophic effect on your mood.
The mucosal membrane of the gastrointestinal tract is incredibly sensitive to mistreatment in the form of poor diet, antibiotic use, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or any number of pathogenic infections.
Left untreated, your poor gut health can lead to worsening moods.
The good news about the brain-gut connection is that there are ways to treat both your mood and your digestive symptoms.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by taking a good probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains and a high CFU count.
Our probiotic contains 12 carefully-chosen strains and 15 billion CFUs of probiotic bacteria. It also uses time-release probiotic tablets that are 15 times more effective at getting those bacteria past stomach acid, compared to regular capsules.
A healthy diet with plenty of fermented foods can also help. Lastly, don’t forget regular exercise, plenty of water and a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet.