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Nurturing the Gut-Brain Axis For Better Mental Health

Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you're nervous?

Or have you ever felt sick after a particularly stressful event? These physical sensations are not just in your head. Our gut and brain are intimately connected through the gut-brain axis, a complex communication system that influences our mental, emotional, and cognitive health.

JUVIA is on a mission to help people improve their overall health by improving their gut health. In this article, we'll explore the gut-brain axis, examining the ways in which our gut health impacts our mental well-being and we'll also offer some practical tips to help nurture our gut-brain connection for optimal brain health.

What is the gut-brain axis?

The gut-brain axis is a bi-directional communication system that links our central nervous system and our enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is the network of neurons and tissues lining our gastrointestinal tract. This system is responsible for digestion, nutrient absorption, and the elimination of waste.

Around 100 million neurons run through our gut, and these neurons are just as complex and powerful as those found in our spinal cord. So when something goes awry in our gut, it is bound to affect our brain and mental health.

Recent research has shown that the state of our gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms that live in our gut, influences our mood, behaviour, and cognition. In fact, the gut microbiome is sometimes referred to as our "second brain." For example, studies have found that people with depression have lower levels of certain bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, in their gut.

Optimising your gut for brain health

So what can we do to nurture our gut-brain axis?

Firstly, regular exercise can do wonders for the gut-brain axis. Exercise has been found to increase the diversity of gut bacteria, which is associated with improved mental health. Additionally, getting quality sleep is crucial for gut health. Studies have shown that poor sleep can disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and even cognitive decline.

More than this, sleep deprivation has been proven to influence dietary choices, which has a knock-on effect on your gut microbiome composition, but interestingly, studies have shown that sleep deprivation itself can cause dysbiosis (imbalance) in the gut. Modern society finds it very easy to dismiss sleep; we do it for social reasons, for work, and just to extend our waking downtime, but perhaps it’s time to rethink this and make sleep a priority.

It turns out that practising relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation have been found to boost healthy gut bacteria by reducing inflammation in the body. Setting aside just 10-15 minutes each morning may do wonders for your gut health. Seasoned meditators aim for around 40 minutes for each session. They consider this to be the optimum time to tame your mind and for your body to relax enough to reap the physiological and psychological benefits. While this may not work for everyone, finding an amount of time you can commit to each day will work like magic on your health.

Another way to optimise your gut health is by taking JUVIA. JUVIA brings about a healthy balance in your gut by starving the bad bacteria from its vital food source. This lets the colonies of friendly bacteria in your microbiome flourish, which has wider health implications, including your mental health.

The consequences of neglecting your gut health

Conversely, ignoring these health practices can lead to negative impacts on your gut health, and in turn, your mental health. Poor diet, which will lead to an unhealthy gut microbiome, has been linked to a variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. Additionally, exposure to chronic stress has been found to disrupt the gut-brain axis, leading to inflammation and a host of negative health outcomes.

Sadly, those who are feeling depressed or anxious tend to make decisions that deepen the wound. For example, it is well established that depressed people tend to make poorer food choices. This causes dysbiosis in the gut and impacts serotonin production, which promotes mood and sleep. Up to 90% of your serotonin is produced in your gut and once this is disrupted, it can bring about mental and emotional disorders, which trigger inflammation, which further disrupts your gut. Anxious people tend to have poorer sleep and poor sleep impacts food choices and directly impacts your gut composition; can you see how this can spiral out of control?

The gut-brain axis works like a loop and if you don’t take care of it you can find yourself in a vicious cycle of declining health, so give it the attention it needs and deserves.

Tips for a healthier gut-brain axis

Certain foods have been identified as being particularly beneficial for the gut-brain axis.

Kiwis, for example, are believed to promote good sleep, which will benefit you and your gut microbiome. Eating 2 kiwis one hour before bed should show some promise, but remember you have to continue the ritual and it may take some time for your body to adapt.

Fermented foods, like yoghurt and kimchi, contain beneficial bacteria that can help support a healthy gut microbiome. Finally, foods with naturally occurring prebiotics, such as garlic and onions, feed the good bacteria in your gut and encourage their growth, but some people can react to these foods, so make sure to enjoy them in moderation if you are sensitive.

Final Thoughts

Specific strains of bacteria have been identified as having a positive impact on the gut-brain axis in the microbiome. For example, a strain called Bifidobacterium Longum has been found to reduce stress-induced inflammation and improve anxiety-like behaviour in mice. Another strain, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, has been found to reduce anxiety-like behaviour in mice. More studies are necessary for us to better understand these links, but so far the science is showing true promise and that will help us to figure out how to optimise our gut health for brain health.

In the meantime, we know that our gut and brain are intimately connected through the gut-brain axis and it is clear that nurturing our gut health can improve our mental well-being.

Regular exercise, quality sleep, and relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga can all help support a healthy gut microbiome.

JUVIA not only helps balance your gut, but it also eliminates the nasty consequences associated with food sensitivities. 

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