Updated: Aug 27
The day we were born, we developed our gut microbiome in many ways… From the way we were delivered to whether we were breastfed. This created our baseline of gut health, and set us up for our future into adulthood. Up to 40% of us will develop some kind of chronic digestive issue at some time in our lives—and with this, be more likely to develop depression. So what’s the connection? There’s no way what goes in our stomach can actually affect our brain! …right? Unfortunately, wrong. Keep reading for a detailed answer to the question, “Is your gut bumming you out?”
From esophagus to rectum, our entire digestive system is equipped with what essentially can be defined as a “second brain,” called the enteric nervous system (ENS). This system is made of over a hundred MILLION nerve cells, and controls all aspects of digestion—as well as communicating with our actual brain.
From this information we can see that our digestive system is actually in constant communication with our brain! Think of our bodies as a computer for a second. The brain is the hard drive. So that means the keyboard and mousepad is our digestive system. What gets selected and typed has a direct impact on the computer’s function and hard drive. If you are typing in unsafe sites, opening emails with viruses, and not being smart about what you allow on your computer through your typing and clicking… What happens? You get a virus, your computer is ruined, and it’s just a real pain, right? It’s the same concept with the connection of our mental health and our gut health. When you put bad in, bad comes out.
There is proof of this in recent studies that have shown doctors and researchers that people with digestive issues (like IBS, diarrhea, constipation, unsettled stomach, bloating, etc.) are more likely to develop or have depression. Originally, it was thought that these digestive issues were caused by mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. However, it is now being realized that the communications our ENS has with our brain can actually influence our moods, mental state, and overall metal health.
One study even found consistently missing bacteria types in depression patients. Another study worked to “demonstrate the importance of a healthy microbiome, particularly the gut microbiota, for patients suffering from anxiety and depression, as dysbiosis and inflammation in the CNS (central nervous system) have been linked as potential causes of mental illness."
Now that we’ve seen that these two powerful brains really do talk to each other so much, there is a lot more to be said for using gut health and diet changes in order to treat mental health problems. Of course, this varies from person to person. However, the knowledge alone can help ALL of us be more aware, and can be useful in finding ways to combine holistic health and possible pharmaceutical help.
If you would like to learn more about how you can put together a customized plan for your personal gut health and mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out or schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation, or join my FREE Facebook Group "Love Your Gut with Nicole Ritter." And if you are ready to completely transform your gut health, check out my program "7 Days To A Healthy Gut!"
To your health and happiness,