3 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Through Your Gut

Are your intestines harboring healthy or unhealthy bacteria?

3 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Through Your Gut

Image Credits: Allan Ajifo / Flickr

Dr. Edward Group | Global Healing Center


Many of you already know the gut plays host to scores of bacteria. Did you know, however, that there’s about 1,000 different species living there inside your intestinal tract?

It’s all these bacteria that help make up what’s called the microbiome. While it’s fairly well documented that maintaining your gut’s flora can go a long way in improving your overall physical health, more and more research suggests there might even be a link to our mental health.

1. Gut Bacteria May Regulate Anxiety and Depression

In one study, researchers fed probiotics—strains of good bacteria—to mice and suggested the resulting changes in the gut’s microbe colonies could ease feelings of anxiety. [1] A more recent study looked at prebiotics—carbohydrates that serve as “food” for that good bacteria—noting after three weeks, those who took a daily prebiotic supplement had an easier time sorting through anxious and depressed feelings. [2] And still, other reports suggested those out-of-whack bacteria levels could also be a cause of autism, suggesting probiotics as a therapeutic approach for autistic children. [3] [4]

2. Probiotics Modulate Key Compounds Associated with Depression

And so while probiotics and prebiotics could improve the condition of your gut, there’s also recent evidence suggesting internal irritation plays a strong role in your mental health. [5] There are many things that could cause irritation in the gut—unhealthy diets and obesity are just two of many. The body, then, sends cells and proteins to the site of the problem. Recent research suggests people with depression are loaded with cytokines—one of the proteins in question.

3. Omega-3 and Curcumin Could Help

So while there is evidence suggesting depression could be an allergic reaction to internal irritation, other studies suggest that supplementing with omega-3 and curcumin (an extract from the spice turmeric) could ease issues in the gut in much the same way as NSAIDs. [6] [7] More and more doctors are looking at approaching irritation in depression protocols, rather than simply addressing the neurological aspect. [8]

One Final Thought

There are quite a few people out there who never even felt anxious or depressed until they experienced gut issues, furthering the idea that the intestine–brain connection is very real. [9] IBS, for instance, can cause depressive-like symptoms in people, as can gluten intolerance.

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