Today is World Mental Health Day. Here, at The Gut Experts, we are passionate about mental health. It is incorporated into the vital TEAMS elements of The FLAT Gut Diet Plan.
There’s an incredible connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis, it’s like an information superhighway made up of a network of nerves, the immune system, and the hormonal system. The gut has even been called the ‘second brain’.
There is constant two-way communication between the gut and brain meaning that what’s happening in one affects the other.
Poor mental health can lead to increased gut symptoms. This can lead to a vicious cycle with stress and/or anxiety fuelling gut symptoms and those symptoms fuelling stress and/or anxiety and around it goes.
Both IBS and functional dyspepsia (FD) are disorders of the gut-brain axis meaning there is an imbalance of communication between the gut and the brain.
If you have IBS or FD, the effects of anxiety and stress on the gut are more pronounced because of the disordered communication of the gut-brain axis.
Taking proactive steps to manage stress and anxiety is particularly important if you have one of these conditions but everyone can benefit from doing this.
We believe in taking a holistic approach to manage your gut conditions. Looking after your mental health involves looking after your gut health AND looking after your mental health has positive effects on your gut health.
Here are some tips for looking after your mental health
- Simple everyday activities such as walking in nature, yoga, mindfulness & simple breathing practices can help to reduce stress.
- Pay attention to your diet – ensure you’re eating a wide range of food, colours, and whole foods. Your gut microbiome is a major producer of serotonin, “the happy hormone”, so what’s good for your GM is good for your mood. A fascinating study called the SMILES trial showed that eating a Mediterranean-style diet for 12 weeks had a positive impact on mental health in people who suffered from chronic depression and anxiety. See our general diet tips story highlight for more.
- Limit alcohol & caffeine intake when feeling stressed or low as these can worsen mood/anxiety.
- Talk to a friend/family member if feeling anxious, stressed, or troubled. It’s important that we reach out and talk to one another, a problem shared is a problem halved.
- Research has shown that professionally delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a form of talking therapy, and Hypnotherapy can help improve IBS symptoms. Counselling can also be of benefit to those without gut symptoms. If you’d like to explore this, talk to your GP about a recommendation to a certified/accredited professional.
- Keep a gratitude list
If these measures don’t help, please discuss your mental health with your GP/Family
Doctor. It’s very important to get the help that you need.
Get the latest news from
The Gut Experts