The importance of your gut health and its connection to our brain

“Don’t ever second-guess a strong feeling that you have. Trust your gut.”

 Keeping our mind sharp and on point is part of our pursuit of success and becoming better individuals. But in order to do so, we should take care of our body – Needless to say, this magnificent network and system of organs, as well as cells, rely on each other greatly and that’s why it’s important for the gut health to be always on satisfactory levels to make sure our brain performs optimally as well.

Today we’ll talk about the importance of gut health and its connection to the brain.

Our digestive system is responsible for processing most of the food and substances that we consume and thus, the state of our gut’s health always impacts our brain’s health. According to a study published in Harvard Medical School, bacteria present in your digestive systems produce various substances or byproducts that could affect cells in our body, whether it’s good or bad, and of course, this directly correlates with the nervous system cells. 

Another study published by the John Hopkins Medicine Institute tells us of the important relationship between our gut and brain, and how different signals coming from the gut also affect our cognition (thinking skills and memory). At the same time, our gut also reacts to certain feelings that is initiated by our brain. Take for example when we’re feeling anxious or stressed out – When we experience emotions like these, our body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that could also cause stomach cramps and digestive problems.

What are microbiomes and how does it affect our health?

The gut microbiota or “microbiome” is like a small ecosystem in our digestive system which is composed of a collection of microbes that are both healthy and unhealthy. These microbes are always present in our stomachs and if the population of one type of microbe dwindles or propagates, it can upset the balance of this microbiome leading to an onset of other health problems and symptoms such as weakened immune systems, constipation and diarrhea.

To avoid this from happening, consider the following tips:

Lowering stress levels – managing stress is essential to maintaining a healthy gut. By lowering stress levels, you reduce adverse compounds such as cortisol from being produced and a few effective ways to manage stress levels are partaking in enjoyable hobbies, taking a walk, mediating, aromatherapy, laughing, bonding with your loved ones, interacting with pets, getting a relaxing massage or simply taking a break and chilling!

Eating slowly – Sometimes when we’re in a hurry and busy, we tend to eat fast just to keep up with work or whatever else we’re busy with. This is actually bad for your gut health and can increase your risk of developing obesity as well as diabetes. By chewing food thoroughly and slowly, you avoid these risks and help your digestive system stay in shape.

Food intolerance – Checking for food intolerances is important as we may be unconsciously consuming food and substances that might already be causing imbalances and bad reactions to our gut health without being aware of it. Such examples include lactose intolerance, which has associated symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. By avoiding foods that can upset your gastrointestinal balance, you can avoid suffering from these symptoms.

Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated has many benefits and helps maintain your microbiota diversity. It also aids in proper digestion as well as keeping your kidneys healthy.

Take probiotics – Foods rich in probiotics greatly help in digestion and maintaining good bacteria populations. These foods or drinks include fermented food such as natto, kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut. Probiotics drinks are also a tasty treat!

Can changes in diet affect the microbiota diversity of our gut?

Diet, in addition to family genes, environment, and medication use, influences the types of microbiota that live in the colon. Each person’s microbiome is distinct due to these characteristics. A high-fiber diet, in particular, has an impact on the kind and quantity of microbiota in the intestines. Dietary fiber can only be broken down and fermented by microbial enzymes in the colon. Fermentation results in the release of short chain fatty acids (SCFA). This lowers the pH of the colon, determining the sort of microbiota that may thrive in this acidic environment. The lower pH inhibits the growth of some dangerous bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile. SCFA research is expanding to investigate their wide-ranging effects.

Inulin, resistant starches, gums, pectins, and fructooligosaccharides are examples of indigestible carbohydrates and fibers that encourage elevated SCFA levels. Because they nourish our beneficial microorganisms, these fibers are sometimes referred to as prebiotics. Although prebiotic fiber supplements are available, many healthy meals naturally contain prebiotics. The largest concentrations are found in raw garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, and seaweed. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains such as wheat, oats, and barley are all high in prebiotic fibers.