The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health cover
William Read - Nutrition Consultant / Proofreader
William is from Canada, he is passionate nutrition & wellness writer. William understands that the topic of wellness is still not well understood, so his goal is to enlighten and teach people how to live healthier and happier in their bodies.
03.01.23

The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health: What You Need to Know

Table Of Contents

Introduction: What is the Gut Microbiome, and Why is it Important?

The human gut contains a large population of bacteria essential for our health. This bacterial community is called the microbiome and is composed of many different types of bacteria.

The microbiome can be defined as “the collection of all the microorganisms that live on and in a given host.” These organisms make up the majority of our body’s cells. There are more bacterial cells than human cells in our bodies!

The importance of the microbiome lies in its role in regulating the human body’s immune system, digestion, and metabolism. It also impacts our moods, learning abilities, and behavior.

The gut microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. It can be influenced by diet, environment, and genetics. It can also be used as a tool for researchers to understand how it works in different people.

The gut microbiota has been shown to play a role in obesity by influencing appetite regulation and energy balance. It can also affect mood and cognitive function by impacting neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin or dopamine.

The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health

Ways the Gut & Brain Connection is Impacting Your Health and Energy Levels

The gut-brain connection is used to connect your brain and digestive tract. It refers to how the two work together to help regulate each other’s function.

They’re connected by a complex network of neurons and neurotransmitters that send signals to one another. These connections allow the brain to control certain functions of the digestive system as well as influence mood and other parts.

The study found that the gut-brain connection can be used to help people lead a healthy lifestyle. For example, the researchers found that they could change how people’s brains respond to food by changing how their bodies digest food.

The key to understanding this connection is how the gut communicates with our brains. This communication happens in several different ways, including:

  1. The Enteric Nervous System – This part of our body communicates with the brain via nerves, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
  2. The Gut Microbiome – This part of our body communicates with the brain via hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients such as serotonin.
  3. Gut Hormones – These hormones are released by cells in your gastrointestinal tract when you eat certain foods or are stressed out.

We have seen a shift in how people eat in recent years, with many now choosing whole foods over processed foods. This change has led to changes in our gut bacteria, which can lead to better health overall. In addition, the microbiome in our body affects the brain, which means that eating healthy can help improve cognitive function and mood regulation.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted the study. They analyzed data from mice who had been genetically modified to have a specific gene that causes autism-like symptoms. The results showed that when the mice were given antibiotics, their gut bacteria changed significantly and affected their behavior.

Here are ways that the gut-brain connection can affect your health:

  • Good Gut Health 
  • Better Brain Health 
  • Better Mental Health 
  • More Energy 
  • More Happiness
Source: deirdremcleaan.com

Benefits of Having a Balanced Gut Microbiome

The gut microbiome plays a critical role in human health and disease by maintaining homeostasis, regulating metabolism, and supporting immune function.

The human gut microbiome has been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and an autism spectrum disorder.

We must maintain a healthy balance in our gut microbiome because it helps us retain the following: 

Recent studies also show that when your gut microbiome is balanced, it will help you feel more mentally alert – which is excellent for people who are constantly on the go and need their mental faculties to be at their best. In addition, research suggests that the gut-brain axis can be altered by diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes that affect the microbiome.

What is the Connection between the Gut Microbiome and Mental Health?

The gut microbiome is a community of bacteria that resides in the gastrointestinal tract. This bacteria can have a significant impact on our health. The human body has about 10 trillion cells but only 1 trillion bacteria.

The gut microbiome influences how we feel, think and behave. It is also essential for maintaining health, primarily mental and mood regulation.

This connection is because the brain communicates with the body through emotions. When there is a disruption in this communication due to dysbiosis or imbalance in gut microbiota, it can lead to mood disorders such as depression or anxiety.

The connection between the gut microbiome and mental health is still being studied, but more research is expected to be conducted in this field as time goes on.

Key Takeaways of The Microbiome and Mental Health Connection

The brain is made up of 100 billion neurons that are constantly communicating with each other through electrical impulses. The brain is also home to trillions of microbes that regulate mood, behavior, memory, and other cognitive functions.

The human microbiome has been associated with mental health in some ways. For example, research has shown that individuals with a diverse microbiome are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Additionally, people with microbiomes altered by antibiotics tend to have worse mental health outcomes than those without such alterations.

A study in Japan also found that people who had the most diverse gut microbiome were less likely to develop mental illness than those with less diverse microbiomes. 

The connection between the human microbiome and mental health is not yet fully understood, but research suggests that it plays an essential role in our overall well-being.

In addition, a recent study found that people with anxiety have different gut bacteria than those without anxiety. This may be because of their diet or other environmental factors such as stress or pollution.

A research study found that people with depression had less diverse microbial communities. The brain’s microbiome is more varied in people with depression because it lacks certain bacteria that are important for a healthy mood.

  1. The microbiome of depressed individuals is different from their non-depressed peers.
  2. The microbiome may result from changes in gut bacteria, which could lead to depression.
  3. There are some treatments for depression that have been shown to improve the gut biome.
  4. The brain’s microbiome is more diverse in people with depression because it lacks certain bacteria.

What are the Symptoms of a Dysfunctional or Imbalanced Gut Microbiome

The composition of the gut microbiome varies from person to person, but some common factors can be attributed to a dysfunctional or imbalanced gut microbiome. Dysfunction or imbalance of the gut microbiome can lead to many symptoms. 

Food allergies or sensitivities

When you have food allergies or sensitivities, your body is trying to tell you something is not working correctly. Your immune system attacks what your body perceives as a threat, which can result in common symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Your gut may be out of balance and need attention from a functional medicine practitioner like an allergist.

Inflammation in the body

Inflammation is a natural response to infection, injury, or other sources of inflammation. The body must react this way as it helps fight these outside influences. However, when the body produces excessive amounts of inflammation, it can negatively impact health and function.

Skin problems like acne

The skin is our body’s largest organ. It helps protect us from germs, prevents water loss, and acts as a barrier against the outside world. The skin produces hormones. If a person’s gut is not functioning well, they may suffer from skin problems like acne.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a symptom of a dysfunctional gut. The autonomic nervous system, which controls bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion, can cause fatigue. The body needs nourishment from food and small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) to function correctly.

Mood swings

Gut health is often overlooked, but if you’re experiencing mood swings, it could be a sign that your gut is out of balance. Likewise, if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression and chronic pain, it could indicate that your microbiome is out of balance.

Weight gain 

The body’s gut is an organ of which we are often unaware. The digestive tract is a complex network that has many functions. One function crucial to overall health and weight is the production of digestive enzymes.

You don’t often think about your gut and weight gain in the same sentence. However, weight gain is a symptom of the condition for those with a dysfunctional gut. A dysfunctional gut can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and many other factors, including autoimmune diseases.

The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health

How do Gut Bacteria Affects Mental Health?

When we are healthy, our gut microbiome is dominated mainly by “good” bacteria that help digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption. But when we experience any kind of stress or trauma, our good bacteria can be wiped out by “bad” bacteria, which causes inflammation in the body and can lead to mental health disorders like anxiety or depression.

There are two main ways in which gut bacteria affect mental health:

  • First, the gut microbiota changes how we think by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin.

The gut microbiota is the ecosystem of bacteria in our body. It has been shown that gut microbiota can impact people’s thinking by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin. The gut microbiota can also affect mood, cognitive performance, and even how food tastes.

  • The gut microbiota affects our behavior by changing the levels of hormones like cortisol or oxytocin.

It provides a person with nutrients and protects them from pathogens. In addition, studies suggest that the gut microbiota affects behavior by changing levels of hormones like cortisol or oxytocin. This could affect how people behave toward each other in terms of adhering to social norms and their anxiety levels.

Gut Microbiome and Mental Illness

The gut microbiome and mental health are closely related. For example, the gut microbiome is responsible for developing many mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

It has been found that a disrupted gut microbiome can trigger mental illness. For example, a study showed that people with depression have a lower diversity of gut microbes than those without depression. Another study revealed that patients with schizophrenia had fewer bacterial species in their guts than healthy controls.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health Research, people with a depressive disorder have an increased risk for gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

There are many reasons why people with certain mental illnesses may be more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms than those without mental illnesses, including:

  • A lack of treatment for gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Stressful life events or traumas.
  • Poor diet or food intolerances.

The gut microbiome is influenced by food, drugs, stress, environment, and even sleep. For example, people with a high-carb diet are more likely to have low-bacterial flora in their intestinal tract, which leads to an imbalance of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

The Role of Diet on Our Gut Health and Well-being

The gut is home to trillions of bacteria that help digest food, absorb nutrients, fight off infections, and produce vitamins. They are also a significant factor in our immune system function. But when we overeat sugar or processed foods or don’t get enough sleep or exercise, our microbiome can be thrown off balance, leading to serious health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.

Diet is integral to maintaining good gut health as it helps regulate appetite and mood while keeping your immune system strong. In addition, the type of foods we eat determines the types of microbes that live in our gut. Therefore, the diet can also help balance the immune system and keep it healthy. 

The Western diet is the most popular dietary pattern, consisting primarily of processed foods, meat, dairy, refined grains, and sugar. However, a study published in Nature showed that Western diets had created an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in our guts for decades. This imbalance can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, among other chronic diseases.

Dieting and Mental Health: How to Eat Healthier While Still Enjoying Foods

Dieting is not a simple task. It can be frustrating and challenging to maintain. For some, it can lead to mental health issues and weight gain.

Weight gain is an issue for many people who want to lose weight but struggle with dieting. Dieting is a sensitive issue that often brings up guilt, shame, and depression. Therefore, it is essential to have the right tools to help people maintain a healthy weight and improve their mental health.

The following are some ways to eat healthier and stay on track with your diet.

Identify the problem

To achieve your weight loss goals, you need to identify what you are eating and why you are eating it. You must keep a food diary for at least three weeks to get an accurate idea of your diet.

Start small by adding a green smoothie to your morning routine or walking before or after work.

Green smoothies are a powerful weapon against disease and inflammation. They not only taste great but also provide you with essential nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin C, and minerals. Plus, they’re affordable, easy to make, and portable.

Slowly increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Consuming vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have numerous health benefits. They are low in calories, high in fiber, and can help you feel fuller faster. Vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories. Whole grains are a good source of carbs that can help you feel full and energized.

Avoid overeating sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Sugar is a common source of excess calories in the diet. It is easily accessible, inexpensive, and highly addictive. Sugar stimulates the release of endorphins which makes people feel good about themselves and puts them in a good mood. However, consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Keep track of what you have eaten to know if you have been overdoing it on certain foods.

It is vital to track what you have eaten to know if you are overeating. This way, you can make better choices about your health and learn how to eat a healthy diet.

Find out if any foods trigger negative feelings in you (such as cravings) and avoid them when possible.

Various foods trigger negative feelings in us. It is vital to avoid the food that is starting them and spend time with friends and family. This will help you feel better and stop them from taking over your life.

What Foods Are Good for Your Gut Microbiome?

The gut-brain axis is a term that refers to the connection between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. Many factors can affect this connection, but one of them is diet.

A healthy gut microbiome is essential for proper immune function and brain health. The foods you eat can be beneficial or harmful to your microbiome, depending on what they contain. Here are some of the best foods for your gut microbiome:

  1. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.
  2. Probiotic foods like yogurt and kombucha.
  3. Prebiotics like onions, garlic, bananas, and asparagus.
  4. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oil supplements.
  5. Other sources of prebiotics include chicory root, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke root, and sugar snap peas.

5 Probiotics to Boost Your Gut Microbiome and Improve Your Mental Health

The gut microbiome is vital for overall good health. It is estimated that 80% of our immune system is located in the gut, which helps manage our moods, emotions, thoughts, sleep patterns, digestion, etc.

The research found that probiotics significantly affect mental health by influencing the microbiome. There is also evidence that they can help to reduce depression. The best way to take care of your gut is through regular consumption of probiotic supplements, which can be beneficial for mental health as well.

Probiotics have been shown to help with depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, research suggests they can help with weight loss or digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The five probiotics listed below are some of the favorite ones for improving your gut health.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG 

This is one of our favorite probiotic strains because it can survive stomach acid and reach the intestines intact to help promote healthy digestion. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and improve mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Bifidobacterium lactis 

Bifidobacterium lactis is an excellent strain for those who suffer from digestive issues like gas or bloating. It helps with digestion by producing lactic acid that breaks down food into smaller particles so they can be absorbed faster.

Lactococcus lactis

Lactococcus lactis is a microorganism used in the food industry that has been found to stimulate the growth of beneficial gut microbes. The health benefits of Lactococcus lactis include helping to increase good bacteria in the digestive system and can treat digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome.

Bifidobacterium longum

Bifidobacteria are a type of bacteria that help to improve digestion and boost the body’s immune system. There is no proof that Bifidobacterium longum is needed to digest food, but several studies have suggested it.

Saccharomyces boulardii 

Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast found in mammals’ digestive tract. Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, including constipation, diarrhea, and inflammation. This miracle yeast has been researched by a team of microbiologists from the United States and Canada, who found that it helps the human gut microbiome thrive while restoring the balance in the intestines.

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William is from Canada, he is passionate nutrition & wellness writer. William understands that the topic of wellness is still not well understood, so his goal is to enlighten and teach people how to live healthier and happier in their bodies.