Health / 30.08.2016

Gut Week: Why healing your gut could make you happier

By Roisin Dervish-O'Kane
Turns out there's truth behind those 'gut feelings'

Time to get my run on

Balancing your digestive bacteria might not be the sexiest of health goals. But science is indicating that your gut could help everything from unpredictable mood swings to depression.

Here’s why, for your health and happiness,  it’s well worth taking the time this Gut Week to work out what’s going on at your core.

1. Your gut does loads more than just digest food
‘Your gut actually initiates a staggering number of actions in your body – the brain gets all the credit for this but actually, the gut contains more nerve cells and connections than the brain and sends far more information to your brain than the other way around,’ says natural health expert Dr Joseph Mercola.

2. An unhappy tum = unhappy brain
It’s not just constipation and diarrhea you have to deal with when your tum is below par. One recent animal study in journal Nature Communincations showed that certain gut bacteria triggered anxious and depressive behaviour when exposed to stress. Researchers concluded that it’s all to do with the number of probiotics – micro organisms in the gut that stimulate the growth of good bacteria.

3. Knowledge is power
‘Specific strains of probiotics have been shown to reduce anxiety,’ says Dr Mercola. ‘They produce different neurochemicals, such as GABA, which reduces stress hormones; serotonin, which, among other things, promotes good sleep; and dopamine, which plays a role in focus, pleasure and motivation,’ he explains.

‘It’s likely that these chemicals, traveling between the gut and the brain, influence mental health – especially when you consider that the greatest concentration of serotonin is found in the gut, not the brain,’ he adds.

4. You can redress the balance
Address your stress levels, give mindfulness a go – and seek professional help if you feel your mental health issues are getting to a point that you can’t cope with. But you can tackle the problem from your ‘second brain’ too, by including good gut bacteria-boosting probiotics. Here’s everything you need to know about probiotic supplements – one health-boosting pill experts are consistently on board with. Alternatively, boost your good bacteria levels in your kitchen. Fermented foods are bang on trend (hello crusty sourdough) and are far more delicious that they sound. Click here for our top five to try this Gut Week.

Are you motivated to try healing your gut this Gut Week? Tweet and tell us @healthymag – or join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

Gut Week 2015 runs from 31st August – 6th September and is part of the ongoing Love Your Gut campaign. For further details visit www.loveyourgut.com

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Gut Week: Why healing your gut could make you happier
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Gut Week: Why healing your gut could make you happier
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Science suggests healing your gut could help everything from unpredictable mood swings to depression. Find out how to get better digestion.
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Healthy
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