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A healthy gut equals healthy neurotransmitter levels, better mood and energy

Updated: Mar 13

It’s true. did you have any idea that your gut health would have such an impact on your mood?

Woman with sad face

Our gut (gastrointestinal tract) is often referred to as the bodies' ‘second brain’ and as such is lined with 100 million nerve cells. Ninety per cent of the chemical messengers that are responsible for modulating your mood are produced in the belly. Your gut is not only responsible for digesting the food you eat, but also the emotions and experiences you process every day. And your energy!

No doubt you’ve heard common expressions such as:

- gut feeling

- gut instinct

- making a 'gut-wrenching' decision

- healthy gut healthy mood

or having “butterflies” in your stomach when you’re nervous?

These are more than just a figure of speech.

The gut and brain are constantly in communication with one another. They are connected via the two-way superhighway of the vagus nerve, also known as the gut-brain axis. Along this pathway, messages are relayed from the depths of your digestive tract up to the highest regions of your brain.

Interplay between gut and brain
The interrelationship between the gut and the brain

The vagus nerve is part of your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, associated with ‘rest and digest’ – as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. We need to be in rest and digest for effective digestion, and for our body to restore and regenerate our cells. If we have been stressed or are tense our body can become locked in the fight and fight response.

Some simple ways to improve your vagal nerve tone:

  • singing

  • gargling

  • left nostril breathing

  • slow, deep belly breathing

  • aerobic exercise

  • eliminate sugar from your diet

  • avoid foods that aggravate your digestion

If you’re experiencing digestive disorders, like bloating, reflux, tummy discomfort, lots of gas or constipation it’s not unusual to experience disruption to your mood and mental cognition too. Stress and mental health can affect your gut, and vice versa – the health of your gut can affect your state of mind.

Healthy gut = healthy neurortransmitter levels
Healthy gut means healthy neurotransmitter levels

How can I improve my gut health?
  1. Cut out all processed, refined and sugary foods (that means lollies, cakes, muffins, icecream!)

  2. Reduce coffee, alcohol, fizzy drinks, deep fried foods and processed foods. (Don't over drink kombucha)

  3. Increase whole foods such as green leafy vegetables, lean meat, fish and free range meat

  4. Drink 1.5 litres of filtered water daily. Adding lemon juice to your water is a great way to alkalise your body.

  5. Don't overeat, chew your food thoroughly and don't' eat when stressed.

  6. Book a Hair Test! This will show you what foods are affecting your body and you can start changing your eating as soon as you get the results back.

  7. An overgrowth of candida can contribute to poor gut health. Have you got candida?

  8. Take a general probiotic. (There are many different ones, and if you have got a chronic problem with bloating and gas probiotics may cause more discomfort.)

How can I help?

Download my free Healthy Digestion habit tracker and you will get my top tips to put into action now.

Healthy digestion 6 habits
Download PDF • 1.18MB

Book a naturopathic consultation for a personalised plan to get you on track. We can address your gut health and your mood together, and I can recommend supplements specifically for your symptoms.

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