Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.”Hippocrates
What is gut health?
To put it simply, the process of digesting the foods, from the moment it enters through the mouth and the enzymatic & chemical reactions that follow, till the time,it exits the body, is our gut health. Now, the efficiency with which the whole process takes place, is the deciding factor of its health. Gut health is the state of having a healthy, robust digestive system, free from any sort of maladies and inflammations.
Why gut health is crucial?
Well, our life depends on it. Literally and no exaggeration!
Have you observed when you have a good bowel in the mornings, how all of a sudden your face lights up? And youb are ready for a productive day. Do you remember as a child when you did not “go” to the toilet before leaving for school, how troubled you were the whole day? Although we haven’t paid much attention to our gut health, Covid did that job for us and brought our health to the forefront. 2 reasons why gut health is crucial:
- 70% of the immune cells are made in the gut and gut lining. So, in orxer to have a good immunity against all the invaders and virus, gut health is the key.
- Your gut has a brain of its own and its made of many interconnected nerves, which have a direct link with the brain. The feelings of butterfly in the stomach, stomach churning etc are not new to anyone of us. Whatever emotions you think of, they have a direct impact on your gut health. So, next time, you are worried or stressed, think about your gut. And also observe how your digestive system is responding to it.
Mental health & its connection:
The connection between mental health and digestive health is a very interesting one and its good to know that finally doctors, health practitioner and common people are realizing the role of gut health is mental well being. If you feel tired most of the time, sadness & mood swings are a common occurrence in yoour day to day, then you should definitely not ignore your gut health .
Gut microbes/gut flora
Your colon / gut is home to trillions of tiny living micro-organisms called the gut microbes. These gut microbes maintain a unique ecosystem and have a very important role to play when it comes to moods and state of being. It is these microbes that also protect the delicate balance of the good bacteria and manage the pathogens from entering & disturbing the environment inside your gut.
The connection between mental health & digestive health:
Now that we have our basics clear, lets understand this connection. Your gut has a brain of its own and its called the Enteric nervous system. This system is in constant touch with your gut and keeps sending messages like any other efficient system would work.
So, whenever you are under stress, all the resources of your body are directed towards handling that. Releasing cortisol is an example of how the body deals with stress and anxiety. Over a period of time, when anxiety becomes your second nature, too much cortisol is being released, this directly changes the entire balance of the gut resulting in something called as dysbiosis. This directly affects your mood, making you depressive, sad, anxious and demotivated. However, a balanced microbiome can help with your stress and in some cases, improve the stress resilience. The key is to learn to manage your stress. How you do it is your lookout. But if you are thinking binge eating, alcohol, drugs, these are your worst enemies and you will surely land up in more trouble. So, then, what is the way-out?
Solutions for dealing with gut health issues & anxiety
Let’s look at few solutions to handle this better:
- Eat plant based diet. Your diet should comprise of a diverse variety of fruits, vegetables, salads, herbs and seeds. These serve as a prebiotic for the probiotics to act. Fiber is crucial for gut health and for your moods. And since plant based diet is abundant in fiber, its best to switch to the same.
- Practice yoga, qi gong or any other body movement which focusses on the breath and heals holistically. Yoga is the most integrated system and it works not only on the physical body & mind, but also on the energy centers of the body. These energy centers hold the key to healing on multiple levels.
- Develop a hobby which connects you to nature like gardening, pottery. The time spent with mother earth is so healing and it takes your mind off any stress and anxiety.
So, now that you have understood the connection between gut health and mental health, you also understand how both are dependent on each other. With this, take charge of your health, your life and live well.