Mental Health Starts In Your Gut: The Gut-Brain Connection
Though you may not know it, you have a team of soldiers fighting for your life. Numbering in the trillions, these little fighters work tirelessly to help you feel your best– mentally and physically. Residing on your skin, gums, and in your gut live 100s of trillions of bacteria called your microbiome. These tiny but mighty organisms make up 90% of the cells of your body.
Most of these organisms live inside your gut. With the recent advances in medical technology, we’re able to understand the role these bacteria, protozoans and fungi play in our lives. And it’s vitally important, especially to mental health and well-being.
To understand the gut-brain connection and how our mental health is affected, we need a basic understanding of how the gut works.
The Mental Tax Of Chronic Fight Or Flight
When the body is faced with a stressful situation, a number of physical responses take place. If you’re scrolling through Instagram and a cloud of malaria-carrying mosquitos show up to ruin your day, your “fight or flight” response initiates. Your heart pounds, your pupils dilate, your hair stands on end, and adrenaline floods your system. This strengthens your muscles to give you an extra burst of speed to fight or run away. This is how our stress management system keeps us alive.
However, chronic stress (either mental or physical) from modern life interrupts this emergency response in the body. The feedback created by the fight or flight response becomes jumbled, leading to lasting symptoms such as anxiety, clinical depression, weight gain, high blood pressure, headaches and more.
The Immune System’s Role In Mental Health
Having the fight or flight response constantly firing also affects the immune system. This system has its own role to play when stress is present. It releases cytokines which are little messengers that tell our bodies to be on high alert. Operating correctly, the immune system works hard to save your life every day by battling flu and other nasty viruses. But because our stress response system cannot identify the difference between mental stress (like a toxic workplace) and physical stress (an attacker in a dark alley), our immune system rapid fires this defence whether we’re under immediate threat or not.
Chronic immune system activation is harmful, leading to conditions like debilitating depression, autoimmune diseases, generalized anxiety, high blood pressure, cancer and more.
But what about the gut? It turns out, the gut microbiome plays an instrumental role in regulating our immune response. That’s why our gut determines whether we’re sick or well– both physically and mentally.
Supporting Your Gut For Mental Health
Supporting your gut health can have an enormous effect on your quality of life. Changing your diet from processed and refined foods to vitamin-rich whole foods can have immediate benefits to your physical and mental well-being. Providing your gut the right nutrition fortifies your health by changing the gut microbiome composition. It supports your immune system so your body can fight threats when it needs to and relax when it’s safe. That’s why the cornerstone of our philosophy at KADAN Institute is, “all health starts in the gut.”
Would you like to discover the foods that support the gut-brain connection? Download our FREE Gut Recovery Food Guide now. Armed with this 35-page guide, you’ll restore your gut microbiome, increase energy, improve mental well-being, and feel your absolute best.
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