What is the deal with the Gut Brain Connection?
If you are suffering with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or a variation of another mental illness, it’s likely you’ve perused the archives of “Dr. Google” and found many blogs or articles talking of the benefits of a healthy diet. And you may have shrugged it off, thinking “What medical condition wouldn’t benefit from a healthy diet?” But the truth is, it’s more scientific than that.
There is a two-way communication street between your brain to your gut. These pathways link emotional and cognitive centers of the brain to the neuromuscular and nutrient absorption functions of the gastrointestinal tract. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m so upset, my stomach is in knots!” Or noticed an increase or loss of appetite when you’re in emotional distress? This isn’t all because of poor coping skills, it’s because our mood affects our digestion. This part may not raise your eyebrows or cause you to scoff at the idea. This is a pretty accepted and understood aspect of becoming an adult with concerns, worries and stress.
But what might surprise you is that an often overlooked important aspect is the reciprocal affect: your digestion influences your brain. With over 75% of your serotonin being produced in your gut, multiple studies linking the mental state with gut flora, and the obvious mental deficiencies with lacking nutrition this shouldn’t come as a shock. However, time and time again, we see mental disorders treated with a prescription pads in 10 minutes and a lacking emphasis on the preventative, proactive and therapeutic uses of a brain optimizing diet.
In mental and cognitive dysfunction from Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer’s, Mood Disorders, Psychosis and Developmental delays we have seen a diet high in healthy omega-three fatty acids, essential trace minerals, high in nutrient-dense foods (such as dark leafy greens, dark mixed berries) and non-toxic chemical exposed consumables can have positive impacts on restoring the brain function, improving mood stability and cognitive processing while reducing risk for co-morbidities.
At times a brain optimizing diet can correct and stabilize mood and mental dysfunction. Other times, more focused treatment and nutrient therapies are necessary to restore the imbalances from a standard american diet, until the diet is corrected. And lastly, we cannot forget food allergies and sensitivities. Food proteins that wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal tract can compromise the absorption of vital nutrients for brain function and rob your body of the ability to utilize whatever healthy foods you are eating towards good health! Because of the wide variety of possible symptoms and conditions impacted by our brain and our gut, it’s best to seek therapeutic nutrient advice from a trained professional for a personalized plan.
At Health for Life Grand Rapids, our skilled Naturopathic Consultant (Nicole Cain ND, MA) can help you assess where and how to implement nutrient changes to help your mood and brain function, while our Health Coaches (Jennifer Belmonte, LMSW CHC) help you adhere to these dietary changes at home, in real life. For more information please contact Health for Life today and set up a complimentary meet and greet with one of our Naturopathic Physicians or Health Coaches! Give us a call 616-200-4433 or set it up online now!
Disclaimer: In Michigan, Naturopathic Consultants are not yet licensed, Naturopathic Consultants are only able to provide health education to residents of Michigan.