This week I was lucky enough to host a very interesting and topical ‘Coffee Talk’ by Laraba Friedman from ‘Balanced Healing’. The subject was ‘Gut Health and it’s link to Mental Health’. Laraba presented us with some interesting facts on how the gut plays a huge role on the way we think and feel. We learnt how the gut is full of microorganisms (2.5Kg of the little things!) We need a healthy balance of these microorganisms for the healthy function of the gut. When there is an imbalance an intestinal dysbiosis occurs which can produce negative physical symptoms. It can also affect our mind. For example, as most of our serotonin is produced in the gut, an imbalance of bacteria may result in our gut failing to produce adequate amounts of serotonin. It therefore impacts our levels of happiness. Another condition which we seem to be hearing a lot about recently is leaky gut syndrome where the lining of the stomach is damaged, allowing toxins to leak through. This not only produces digestive issues but also interrupts proper brain function causing symptoms such as anxiety, depression and brain fog.
We just have to look at our children to see the connection between the gut and the mind. They play it out in full-blown technicolour when they consume excessive amounts of sugar they become over-excited and slightly crazed (well, mine do). This is often followed by a crash and a mini-depression. The effects don’t seem to be so obvious and immediate on adults but there can be a creeping effect of a poor diet on the gut and therefore the brain.
There’s all sorts that you can do to start to nurture your gut such as
Eating a balanced diet with healthy fibre
Eating anti-inflammatory foods
Lowering alcohol intake
Eating enough good fats
Introducing pro-biotics and pre-biotics
Taking the right vitamins and minerals (B6 and Zinc)
Cutting down on meat
But not everything works for every one. As Laraba says, look at your diet and see what works for you. Sometimes, you may need to have a test to see if you have certain food intolerances that could be affecting your gut health.
So, turning the connection between the gut and the brain back on itself, I think it’s time to start listening to your gut (that doesn’t mean giving in to cravings) but listen to your body and it will tell you what you need. The gut has often been referred to as your second brain and you should trust it as much as you do your first one. If you are not feeling 100% your gut will normally let you know what you need - e.g. for women, iron when menstruating, citrus when you have a cold or a healthy soup when you’re under-the-weather. Believe in yourself and your body's natural ability to look after itself but don’t be afraid to get some advice if you need it. Laraba is a good person to talk to for that! Find her at https://www.balancedhealing.ch.