The Gut-Brain Axis
In recent years, the gut-brain axis has dominated the research scene in the fields of psychoneuroimmunology, gastroenterology, and functional health. The topic has quickly become the center of many conversations concerning human wellness and wellbeing — and for good reason!
According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the bidirectional relationships between the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system, and the gastrointestinal system (and changes to each of those relationships) are the root causes of many “well-known brain-gut disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and related functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.” Examples of such disorders include Celiac Disease and Crohn’s Disease; two conditions that severely limit the functionality of the intestines and generally progress to exacerbated, systemic symptoms over time.
The gut-brain axis, which consists of these bidirectional relationships, has also been associated with more severe health issues that primarily affect the brain, like neurodegenerative diseases and mental illnesses. The onset of an affliction, whether gut-related or brain-related in nature, can often be traced back to the state of the microbiome.
The gut microbiome, made up of trillions of bacteria microbes, is involved in the regulation of countless physiological and psychological processes. It influences everything from stress response and emotional control to discomfort tolerance and neurochemistry. So, it’s no surprise that the quality and quantity of microbes living in the GI tract are major determinants of physical, mental, and emotional health.
Apparently, the little creatures making up the gut microbiome have a big impact!
How does food play a part?
If the quality or quantity of bacteria living in the gut microbiome is diminished, so is the role of the gut-brain axis in moderating gut and brain health. Symptoms like brain fog, poor memory recall, and chronic headaches are a few early indicators that it may actually be time to move out of the mind and into the body. Or, in this case, into the belly.
There are myriad practices to get the job done, but the most effective techniques are oftentimes the simplest ones! Optimizing the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor. In fact, it can be as easy as getting intentional with nutrition, preparing balanced meals, and supplementing with the right herbs.
Try making these small, dietary changes to beat the brain fog, feed your microbiome, and protect your gut-brain axis.
Limit harmful foods.
According to this Harvard article, the most harmful foods tend to be fried, processed, refined, and sweetened with artificial sugars. Swap these out for brain-boosting ingredients, like extra virgin olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, fresh fish, and fruits rich in Vitamin C.
Prioritize food diversity.
Eating a wide array of foods is an easy (and delicious) way to improve the functionality of the gut. In fact, the amount of variation in a diet directly affects the gut’s ability to effectively digest a greater number of nutrients! Not only does the variation guarantee that you’re getting a mix of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; your body learns to produce a more comprehensive mix of stomach acids, too!
Balance your microbiota.
Food diversity is one way to balance the quality and quantity of bacteria in your gut. You can also support this by: increasing your fiber intake, incorporating fermented foods, and eating the daily recommended amount of high-quality protein. Mix a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed into your morning smoothie, try adding kimchi to your afternoon macrobiotic bowl, and grill a fresh piece of salmon for dinner!
Protect the lining of your gut.
The lining of your gut is made up of tight knit junctions between the microbiota living in your intestines. In a healthy system, these junctions – or where the bacteria come together – form a barrier to increase nutrient absorption within the gut and decrease the leaking of food particles, bacteria, and toxins into the bloodstream. When the lining of your gut is damaged, the barrier between your intestines and your bloodstream becomes too permeable. The gut-brain axis is the first system to be affected and widespread imbalance quickly follows.
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An elevated existence is built upon the foundation of wholistic wellness. We made it one step easier to prioritize and protect yours.