The key to a healthy brain may lie in your gut
Did you know that our gut health is directly linked to our brain health? The gut is often referred to as the “second brain” and studies have shown a direct link between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis or gut-brain connection.
We’ve taken a look at how the gut and brain communicate and shared 5 easy-to implement tips that will help support your gut microbiome.
What is the gut-brain connection?
The gut-brain connection refers to the bidirectional communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. This two-way communication means that our thoughts and emotions impact the gut, and our gut bacteria also affect the brain.
The vagus nerve, which carries this line of communication between the brain and the gut, communicates information from the gut to the brain using gut hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and glutamate. Different organs can communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve; for example, this is how our brain knows the stomach is full.
5 ways to support your gut microbiome
The microbiome is an important ecosystem of good bacteria that resides in the gut. There are more than 10-100 trillion different microorganisms that make up the human microbiota and our gut microbiome contains more microbes than the number of stars counted in the galaxy! Here are a few ways to help support your gut microbiome.
1. Look at your diet
Eat the rainbow - consider colourful, diverse, plant-based foods and fermented foods when you do your food shop. Think nuts, seeds, wholegrains, fruit (including fresh, frozen, dried, and canned) and veggies, legumes and pulses, herbs, and spices. A balanced diet with a focus on these foods will ensure you are getting plenty of fibre, naturally occurring prebiotics, vitamins and minerals. Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and oily fish and keep processed foods, such as takeaway and ready meals, to a minimum.
2. Improve your sleep
Our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microbes such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi and viruses. Each microbe has its very own body clock, so it’s no surprise that our sleep has a huge impact on our gut health. If you're not getting the right quantity and quality of sleep, your gut microbes will feel it too. It’s important to create a consistent night time routine and ensure you wind down for a few hours before bed. Limiting screen time before bed can be incredibly beneficial and have a positive impact on your sleep.
3. Start moving
Moving your body and fitting in some regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality which in turn has a positive impact on our gut health. Try to fit in some exercise in whatever form best suits you and your daily routine. Whether it’s the gym, yoga, or getting out for a walk, taking the time to get moving has a big impact on our overall health.
4. Look to reduce stress
There are many health benefits associated with reducing our stress levels, but we know this is easier said than done. Our wellness expert shares advice on how to support your wellbeing, including practicing mindfulness.
5. Get outside in nature
Finally, maximize the diversity of your gut microbiome by exposing it to new things. Get out in nature and play in the dirt and spend time with pets and animals. Both have relaxing qualities and can have a positive impact on your gut.
If you have any queries in relation to gut health, diet or advice on your overall health, our team are here to help and support. Speak to our team today for advice.