Did you know on average more people feel depressed during winter? Winter blues is a real thing people ! But here’s the thing there is an exciting field of research called psychobiotics, that is forcing doctors & scientists to have a relook at traditionally accepted theories about mental health.
Psychobiotics is the study of how the trillions of bacteria found in your gut (called the microbiome) impact your mental wellbeing. Now, who would have thought that the bacteria in your stomach can make you feel depressed or anxious – but it is true!
We have all felt the butterflies in the stomach when we are nervous or anxious. But your gut health has a much bigger impact on your mental health than just those butterflies! Here are some of the most interesting findings that have come out of recent research from the field of psychobiotics.
Your gut and brain "talk" to each other:
There is a big critical nerve, called the vagus nerve, that passes through the neck to your abdomen. This nerve acts as a walkie-talkie between your gut and brain. It carries information from your gut to your brain and back. This two-way communication system is also called the gut-brain axis. So, a healthy gut sends signals that the brain might interpret as emotions, including happiness. This way your gut also has the ability to affect your thoughts, mood and behaviour.
Your gut produces neurotransmitters that control your mood:
Your gut is responsible for producing a range of neurotransmitters, including feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. In fact over 90% of serotonin is actually produced within our gut! So a gut that is unhealthy has a direct impact on the production of this hormone and thus also your mood.
Your gut produces antioxidants that reduce inflammation:
Your gut produces strong antioxidants that reach the brain via the bloodstream, where it helps reduce brain inflammation. People diagnosed with anxiety or depression, have been found to have much higher brain inflammation. Any disruption to your gut impacts its ability to produce those antioxidants and impacts the chemical stability in the brain!
Does this mean the key to happiness is through your gut?
The answer is a big MAYBE.
While there is enough evidence to suggest that your gut has an impact on your feelings and thoughts, the exact nature of that relationship is still not understood. There are studies done on mice that found a change in gut microbe balance had a direct impact on the behaviour of the mice.
This area of neuroscience is still very new, but the findings coming out is exciting and may finally be able to answer several questions about mental wellbeing. So taking care of your gut is more than just about a good digestive system, it might also be the key to feeling happier.
Hope you found that interesting (Or is that just us !). The importance of gut health cannot be overstated. It has an impact on practically every aspect of our overall health.
Until we speak next time, Au revoir.