What is the Gut-Brain Connection? 4 Ways to Improve Digestion For Mental Health

The gastrointestinal flora is made up of a variety of bacterial species that have beneficial effects on our digestion and other functions.

Understanding the gut-brain connection (Freepik)

Have you ever had a weird feeling in your stomach when you’re overly stressed, anxious, or maybe head over heels in love? Yes, we have all been there at least once. What we think and how we think often has some effect on our stomach, digestion, or intestinal health. Experts say that chronic stress also makes digestion difficult due to other health risks. This proves that there is some connection between the gut and our brain. This connection is often described as the gut-brain connection. This communication is known as the gut-brain axis.

What is the Gut-Brain Connection?

The gut-brain axis has been the subject of research in recent years. Cross communication between the brain and the gut occurs through multiple biological networks: the nervous system, hormones, neurotransmitters, and the immune system. Microbial changes in the gut can influence brain physiology, mood, behavioral and cognitive functions.

The gastrointestinal flora is made up of a variety of bacterial species that have beneficial effects on our digestion and other functions. These are also affected by factors such as stress and a high-fat diet, and influence brain function through signaling molecules and interaction with neurotransmitters. This in turn has an impact on mood and reactivity to stress. The intestinal flora can produce neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and amino acids such as tyramine, tryptophan, among other chemicals. These affect the local intestinal environment, interact with our immune system and metabolism.

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Brain disorders can closely affect the gut environment, and dysregulated gut homeostasis can lead to exacerbation of CNS (central nervous system) disorders.

Why is good digestion important for mental health?

The gut is often called the second brain. Your health has a direct implication in communication with the brain through the gut-brain axis. A healthy intestine produces several neurotransmitters that transmit signals to the brain through the vagus nerve. To enhance the functioning and presence of these bacteria, it is essential to ensure the intake of prebiotic fiber (food for bacteria) in our diet. Foods like artichokes, bananas, onions, and radicchio are good sources of these fibers. There are various foods and drinks available that also contain these fibers. Therefore, a good healthy gut supports a healthy mind and makes it a happy mind as well.”

Ways to improve gut health

  • Include more vegetables, beans, and legumes.
  • Rest your intestine:Like your body and mind, your gut also needs some “me time” to rest, rejuvenate, and reset to function optimally. A good way to give the intestinal flora and microbiota a break is intermittent fasting. Helps reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Reduced salt intake:Consuming diets rich in salt can alter the intestinal microbiota and cause hypertension or autoimmune diseases. Excessive salt intake can lead to bloating and water retention in the body.
  • Moisturize well and often:Water is all you need. If you can’t commit to gallons of water, you can also look into liquid substitutes like coconut water, vegetable juice, and soups, or a simple gut detox drink like kefir or water infused with cucumber, ginger, lime, and mint. These are some simple home remedies for intestinal cleansing. Most importantly, you should eliminate sugar, salt, and caffeine from your routine.
  • Eat more alkaline foods:Bring balance to your back with alkaline foods, which are known to work wonders for maintaining the pH balance in the body. Add alkaline foods like coriander seed water, coconut water and seeds in your bowel cleansing diet plan.
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Published Date: June 15, 2023 2:38 PM IST

Updated Date: June 15, 2023 2:51 PM IST




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