Have you ever experienced a nasty gut feeling? And did you know that this sensation coming from your stomach could point to an issue with the brain-gut connection?
Millions of neurons and nerves connect the brain and the gut. Your gut produces several substances, including neurotransmitters, that impact your brain. The good news is that particular food groups could benefit the gut-brain axis.
This article explores the gut-brain connection and how nutrition can help improve your emotions.
Gut-Brain Connection: How Is Nutrition Connected To Your Emotions?
How Are Your Gut and Brain Connected?
The neurons and neurotransmitters in our central nervous system can also be present in the enteric nervous system. The gut-brain axis consists of two-way communication between these two systems. The roles of the gut-brain axis include:
- monitoring and integrating gut processes
- connecting the brain’s emotional and cognitive regions with peripheral activities of the intestine
There are physical and chemical connections between these two organs:
The vagus nerve is a structural component of the gut-brain connection. This nerve links the intestines to several principal organs, including the brain. Also, our second brain, the enteric nervous system, controls the digestive process. This act ensures food breakdown, proper blood flow regulation, and nutrient absorption.
Neurotransmitters responsible for controlling feelings and emotions also connect the gut and brain to each other. Moreover, your gut cells and microorganisms also manufacture many of these, such as serotonin.
What Is Serotonin? Serotonin delivers signals between nerve cells in the brain and other body parts. This chemical can significantly influence our body processes, such as mood, sleep, digestion, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting, and sex drive.
Additionally, the microorganisms in your gut build up gamma-aminobutyric acid. This neurotransmitter aids in regulating sensations of anxiety and terror.
Benefits of Improving Gut-Brain Connection
Studies have established the significance of the gut microbiota in affecting the gut-brain connection and that the brain can directly impact the stomach and vice versa.
This relationship is reciprocal. Just as a disturbed brain can send signals to the gut, a troubled intestine can also send them back to the brain. Therefore, anxiety or depression can induce or result in stomach or intestinal issues in humans due to the interaction between the gastrointestinal system and the brain.
Recent research focusing on the function and relationship of the brain and gut microbiome highlights using probiotics for central nervous system disorders. Probiotics have been used as a stand-alone therapy for anxiety and depressive orders, in addition to routinely prescribed drugs in the treatment. Results showed that probiotics were just as effective in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms as traditional prescription medications.
How to Boost Gut-Brain Connection Through Nutrition
The idea of influencing the intestinal microbiota to improve brain functions has gained widespread acceptance. Here are a few dietary categories that are particularly good for the gut-brain connection:
- Probiotic-rich foods. Probiotics, often known as helpful bacteria, have numerous potent advantages for your body and mind, such as improving digestive health, reducing depression, and promoting heart health. Consuming these foods will help strengthen your gut-brain connection: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, etc.
- Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 can positively influence the gut-brain axis. Food with omega-3s alters the gut microbiota composition of neuro-developmentally normal and early-life stressed individuals. Incorporating seafood such as mackerel, salmon, herring, and oysters in your diet can help increase your omega-3 fatty acids intake.
- Prebiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible components that promote good gut bacteria. Prebiotics has solid evidence of influencing the neuroendocrine stress response and emotional processes, which may be what causes anxiety.
- Mushrooms. The bioactive components in mushrooms alter the gut microbiota to support overall gut health and wellness. Vitamin B-6, an essential nutrient for the production of serotonin, is abundant in shiitake mushrooms. Meanwhile, turkey tail mushrooms contain potent polysaccharides and beta-glucans that help stimulate the immune system.
- Polyphenol-rich foods. Polyphenols boost healthy gut bacteria and improve cognitive functions. This plant chemical is abundant in cocoa, green tea, olive oil, and coffee.
- Tryptophan-rich foods. Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a significant role in the production of serotonin. Turkey, eggs, and cheese are high in tryptophan.
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