Supporting the Gut-Brain Connection

Image: Brooke Cagle

Image: Brooke Cagle

After following along with my previous posts, The Brain-Gut Connection and What Causes Poor Gut Health?, are you a little freaked out by how your gut may be affecting your mental and physical health?

Try not to let it stress you out - there’s a lot we can do to boost our gut health and get things back into good working order. Here are my top 5 options.

Take Probiotics

Research is showing that people treated with lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (two common probiotics) experience improvements in psychological distress, anxiety, depression, had decreased anger and hostility, and improvements in problem solving.

Support your Adrenals

Using adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, and Ashwagandha and stress supplements such as magnesium, B vitamins, L-theanine, GABA and vitamin C help keep the digestive system and immune system balanced as well as decreases inflammation by regulating stress hormones.

Identify Food Allergies

The importance of food allergies in irritable bowel syndrome has been recognized since the early 1900s.

Later studies have further documented this and according to a double-blind challenge, approximately two-thirds of those with IBS have at least one food intolerance, and most have multiple intolerances. The most common allergens are dairy, gluten, fatty foods, alcohol and eggs.

Talk to your naturopathic doctor about your symptoms - they'll be able to help you identify the foods you should avoid to help rebuild your gut health.

Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids in your Diet

Depression and anxiety appear to be linked to lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Both depression and anxiety can enhance the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body, and omega-3s are a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Include salmon and other cold water fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and spinach in your diet, and/or go to your health food store for a high-quality Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplement.

Supplement with Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency has been repeatedly observed in conditions involving inflammation, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression.

New research shows that low levels of vitamin D are associated with clinically significant symptoms of depression in otherwise healthy individuals (Psychiatry Research, March 6, 2015).

The digestive system itself is a center point of the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune system. Therefore, keeping it supported through diet, stress management and some nutritional supplements ensure the optimal functioning - not just for your stomach, but for your whole body and mind!