It’s easy to imagine the different parts of our body working independently of one another, our brain leading the charge. It is especially easy to imagine this link between your brain and your gut. Our moods and emotions often manifest themselves in your stomach – just think about the nausea you may have felt when you have a deadline or exam looming.
However, with more nerves than your spinal cord, your gut is almost like a mini-brain in itself. And it seems that the gut may be influencing our brains, and moods, more than we ever realised. The latest research suggests that your gut plays a massive role in not just your physical health, but in your mood.
Studies are beginning to indicate a strong connection between a happy gut and a happy mind. In order to understand how this works, we need to understand our gut microbiome. Did you know your gut stores 95% of serotonin, also known as the happy hormone?
Our guts house more than thirty trillion bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans (collectively known as our microbiome) with our overall health being contingent on how these good and bad microbes behave and interact. In fact, up to 80% of the immune system is located in the gut.
It’s very important to take care of your bacteria. Eating a diet of unprocessed and plant-based foods, can drastically boost your gut health and result in a varied gut microbiome. More variation means your immune system has more good bacteria to help fight disease, allows for a decrease in inflammation and an overall decrease in susceptibility to disease.
So how do we improve our gut health? Probiotics are positive living microorganisms, typically yeasts and bacteria, which can help balance out the bad bacteria living in our gut. We will always have some bad bacteria. Whilst they’re important in their own way (such as keeping our immune systems stimulated and “on it’s toes”), it is vital to ensure that the bad bacteria in our guts are outweighed by the good. This is where probiotics come in.
You can improve your gut health by introducing probiotics to your system. Foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and miso soup are a great source of good bacteria. You can also help maintain good bacteria with probiotic supplements and support your digestion with digestive enzymes.