The Gut-Brain Connection

Have you had a “gut feeling” or made a “gut decision”? You’ve probably experienced butterflies in your stomach when you were nervous or received “gut wrenching” news at some point in your life. From those phrases alone, it’s clear just how connected the gut is to our emotions. Over the past few years, science has begun to back up what we’ve always known: our gut and mind are connected.

The Gut-Brain connection is very real and very powerful. Who would have thought that things like depression, anxiety and sleep problems could start in your gut or that digestion problems like IBS can be improved by working on your brain?

  • Depression and sleep problems are worse than ever in our society right now
  • People today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago
  • More than 30% of the population suffers from insomnia
  • More than half of Americans lose sleep due to stress and/or anxiety.
  • From 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants doubled according to a report published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

How your gut affects your mood?

When you feel happy, sad, anxious, excited or peaceful- it’s because of chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. The most important neurotransmitter for this discussion is Serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for making you feel happy and helping you sleep. Guess where 90% of your body’s serotonin is made? In your gut!

New Research is identifying depression as an inflammatory disorder caused by poor gut health. In fact, multiple animal studies have shown that manipulating the gut bacteria balance in some way can produce behaviors related to anxiety and depression. (Maes, Kubera, Leunis, Berk. Affective Disorders, 2012 and Berk, Williams, Jacka, BMC Med, 2013)

Some simple steps to healing your gut brain connection:

  • Make an appointment to get your nervous system evaluated and find out if your brain is sending messages to your gut like it’s supposed to.
  • The fastest way to decrease stress is to get in a state of gratitude. It is impossible to be stressed and grateful at the same time. Wake up each day and think of 3 things you can be grateful for in the moment. Let gratitude wash over you and watch how it changed your outlook for the day.
  • Kick the sugar habit. Overconsumption of sugar is the biggest cause of gut dysbiosis. Instead of sugar, use natural sweeteners like Stevia or Swerve to sweeten your food. Practice reading food labels and eliminating products with too much sugar.
  • Rebalance your gut with probiotics. If you’ve ever used antibiotics in the past, then chances are that your bacterial balance is off. Get tested to see how your gut flora is and see what supplements you can implement to rebuild your gut.

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