If you ever feel angry when you’re hungry (hangry), or butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, to even getting stomach aches and feeling sick to your stomach when you are stressed: you might have found that there’s a connection between your brain and your guts. Our brain affects our body, but did you know our gut affects our brain as well? When you don’t take good care of it, it will change your mental state too. Is it true that you are what you eat?
There is a direct connection to your gut and brain. It is of such importance, that scientist even call it your ‘second brain’. A gut feeling is your cells remembering, laying connections and reacting to what is happening. So before you might realize something is going on, your body is already making a connection and alerting you.
It learns from experience and reacts you to protect you. Your first and second brain both make decisions based of past experiences, what felt safe? It would lead you to what causes less distress.
The brain in your belly has great influence on your mood and mental health. Intestinal imbalance or distress can cause anxiety, stress and even depression. This is because of the brain-gut connection. Your gut has a whole network of neurotransmitters, called the enteric nervous system, and is connected to your central nervous system.
That second brain produces a lot of important chemicals, the same as your brain does! Did you know that the majority of serotonin isn’t made in your brain but in your gut? Your gut creates 80 tot 90% of this chemical that is also called ‘natures antidepressant’.
Say hello to the tiny friends in your body: microbes! These microorganisms outnumber the human cells in your body by 10 to 1. Because of the gut-brain axis, microbes, like bacteria, have an impact on the chemistry of your gut and this sends signals to your brain, therefore impacting your neurobiology.
The microbes in your gut produce a whole bunch of different molecules and (despite the blood-brain barrier) these chemicals affect your brain and how you feel. It is important to take good care of them!
The different types of microbes digest your food in different ways. The more diverse your food intake is, the happier, more diverse and in balance your microbes will be. A healthy-gut diet consists of lots of fiber. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Stay away from processed food, like cookies and chips, they attract harmful bacteria instead of the good ones that make us feel better. Keep drinking lots of water, 1,5 to 2 liters a day, fibers are thirsty! Not drinking enough can trouble the belly.
Fermented foods contain living bacteria, eating fermented food those healthy living bacteria will find a home in your intensities. There will be less room for bad bacteria! Keep supplying them with sauerkraut, kimchi et cetera, because the good bacteria from fermented food do disappear after a while.
Finally, give yourself, your microbes and your gut some rest! Take breaks, move your body, don’t overwork and try to stay away from stress. Let your body recover. Because, a healthy gut means you’re sick less, you will have more energy, feel mentally clear and have a good emotional wellbeing.
So, to feel good, grow old healthy and for advice, you should listen to your gut!