Gut Feeling: the link between your gut and mental wellbeing

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According to ancient medicine systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health begins in the gut. Health in these systems includes mental/emotional wellbeing, and directly links physical imbalances with emotional states. Now Western medicine is recognising that a huge proportion of our neurotransmitters (chemical messengers previously thought only to be made in the brain) are actually made in the gut, our "second brain". There is increasing research that the state of the gut, particularly inflammation and imbalanced gut bacteria, contributes to numerous psychological complaints such as depression, anxiety and mental/emotional stress. Reducing inflammation in the gut and increasing levels of good bacteria can improve mental/emotional health as well as overall physical health.

What You'll Need

  • Increase unpasturised naturally fermented foods in your diet. Adding a little of these to your daily diet could improve your gut health and your mood.
  • Take a good probiotic supplement with at least 50 billion CFUs (live bacteria) per dose, that includes strains such as Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum that have been clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Reduce refined (particularly sugar), processed, and packaged food in your diet. All of these could be contributing to depression or imbalanced moods.
  • If you suffer from IBS, irregular appetite, or digestive discomfort as well as mood related symptoms consider seeing a nutritionist, Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine practitioner as gut healing via treatment, supplements or diet change could radically improve your mood.

What You'll Do

  • Look at your diet. Are you mostly eating processed, refined, pre-prepared foods? Do you have food cravings?
  • How often do you eat traditionally fermented foods like unpasturised yoghurt from grass fed cows, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, unpasturised vinegar or pickled vegetables?
  • 3. Try keeping a food diary (including mood and energy) and see if there is any correlation between what you eat and how you feel.

Tips & Warnings

  • When choosing a probiotic/microbiome supporting formula make sure that it has a broad range of bacteria including both lactobacillus strains and bifido bacterial strains (the healthy human gut has a ratio of 9:5 lactobacillus to bifidus) that are hardy, shelf stable clinically researched strains.
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