Gut and mental health

“Trust your gut”. We hear that phrase when we’re in the midst of making a big decision, but it may have another, more literal application: mental health. According to Dr. Shebani Sethi (founder of Stanford Medicine’s Metabolic Psychiatry Clinic), the diet is something that needs to be addressed.

“For a long time, doctors thought of nutrition as mostly a secondary therapy… But we realized that nutritional metabolic therapy can serve as a significant medical intervention for mental illness, one that can change the structure and function of the brain.”

Gut health for great health?

It’s long been known that taking care of your gut health is essential in holistic health, but it’s been shown that it actually has links to mental health as well. The gut is responsible for producing over 90% of the body’s serotonin and is a home to 100M+ nerve endings (it’s referred to as the ‘second brain’). This study has shown that certain gut bacteria levels are higher in those with depression—and that there was a higher quality of life rating from participants who had a better ability to synthesize certain biological products due to their improved gut health. The levels of certain bacteria is important, so taking care of your gut and stomach cultures can improve your mental health because of how they interact with your brain’s neurotransmitters.

What else for the gut?

Beyond depression, gut health can also have links to obesity, anxiety, immune response, and even dementia. Indeed, over half of our immune system is housed in our gut system. Since food is how we nourish our body, it’s important that we take care of our gut so we can get the most out of our fuel. Good fuel and gut health means we can pull nutrients out better, so that our brains and bodies are able to use more available resources!

How do we take care of gut health?

There’s a lot of solutions to maintain a good gut balance, from probiotics to supplements to even just eating a wide range of health foods. Here are some basic tips on how to keep up your gut:

  • Exercise—this gets your colon moving, which leads to more regular bowel movements and can help manage symptoms of IBS.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to prevent from overwhelming your gut with food.
  • Eat probiotics to increase the amount of good bacteria in your health (think yogurt, probiotic supplements, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and pickles)
  • Fiber, fiber, fiber—helps keep blood sugar levels stable and regulates hunger
  • Drink lots of water (~8 eight oz. glasses a day)
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can be digestive stimulants that hinder gut function

A healthy gut means a healthier mind and body. Focusing on your holistic health can be hard, so if you find yourself experiencing negative mental health symptoms, try starting with improving gut health!

At SoundMind, we believe in taking care of your mental health in many different ways, including sound therapy. Have you tried our binaural beats out on the SoundMind app? Download for free here!

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    Kyla Dang
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