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Correlation b/w the gut microbiome and mental health

It is tempting to think of our body's systems as distinct entities, and although they are in some ways, they are also interconnected and may impact each other's actions. The stomach and the brain are good instances of how one may influence the other. Our body has the tendency of undergoing a sequence of changes that send all energy and key resources to the muscles and brain, when it is under a lot of stress. This stress also leads the body to release cortisol, which can all have an impact on the gut microbiota.

Similarly, if your gut microbiota is out of balance (dysbiosis), your general mood might suffer. This is due to the fact that the activity of your gut bacteria influences stress and anxiety – a balanced microbiome can promote stress resilience, while an unbalanced microbiome can harm your mental health. Dysbiosis, or an unbalanced gut microbiome, has been linked to a variety of ailments, including mood disorders such as depression. Similarly, depression can produce inflammation, which disrupts the normal environment in the gut. However, encouraging data indicates that probiotics and prebiotics can help with depression, anxiety, and stress resilience.

What connects your brain and your gut?
The vagus nerve, a fundamental part of the autonomic nervous system that allows you to breathe, digest food, and swallow naturally, connects your gut and brain. This nerve may transmit information from your brain to your colon and vice versa which you know as your “gut-feeling”.

This integral relationship between the two vital organs that is the gut-brain axis is becoming an important factor in mental health, brain disorders, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It explains why stress may affect digestion, but also why digestive issues might make you miserable.

How is the vagus nerve stimulating your gut?
  1. This nerve aids in motion, or the movement of food through the digestive system.
  2. It has a direct influence on digestion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.
  3. It has the ability to increase your appetite as well as transmit fullness to your brain.

What happens if the vagus stops functioning properly?
First you need to understand that your gut bacteria are fully able to digest food, particularly dietary fibre, and convert it into metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

These SCFAs are sensed by this vagus nerve, which then sends data to the brain, allowing digestion to be regulated. So if by chance the vagus nerve is damaged by stress (which distributes energy and attention to your muscles and brain), it is unable to respond effectively to inflammation, which is harmful to your gut and gut flora. Hence, your vagus nerve is so vital!

How can you avoid damaging your vagus nerve?
Your gut microbiota has to be diverse to sustain your health, and variety helps keep it balanced. However, if it is unbalanced, opportunistic bacteria can take advantage of the situation and multiply, resulting in inflammation. However, a diversified microbiota can help to reduce inflammation thereby assisting with both mood and anxiety. Diet is one approach to boost the number of certain bacteria while decreasing inflammation.

In conclusion, there is a definite relationship between gut bacteria and your mood. The gut microbiota makeup might reveal a lot about what is going on within your body. Fortunately, determining your personal microbiome health status is now simple. You can examine how diversified your microbiome is, how well it generates butyrate, and even what foods to eat to promote a healthy and happy microbial environment.

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