Your gut health affects your mental health (and vice versa)

Did you know that you have two brains?

The one in your head, which along with the spinal cord is known as the central nervous system (CNS) and a second one in your gut known as the enteric nervous system (ENS).

The ENS communicates continuously with the central nervous system (CNS) in the brain meaning that changes in the gut impact upon the brain and vice versa. This link is referred to as the gut-brain axis, a concept which arose in the early 1970s from the observation that many of the compounds (peptides) originally isolated in the gut (including serotonin, which affects mood) are also found in the brain and vice versa.

It has since been discovered that there are continuous back and forth interactions of information and feedback between the ENS and the CNS and that these information exchanges are present during times of both health and disease.

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This bi-directional signalling system can potentially influence brain processes and digestive function and allow changes in the gut to impact upon brain chemistry and vice versa. As the gut bacteria communicate directly with the ENS, it follows that they form part of this signalling system and have an effect on mental health and wellbeing.

In support of this, recent research is increasingly showing the impact that gut bacteria and probiotics can have on mental health. We can help to support a balanced gut microbiota through a healthy vegetable-heavy diet, topped up with a friendly bacteria supplement.