You might already know that your gut is full of billions of beneficial bacteria, but did you know that the bacteria that make up your gut microbiome also have a significant impact on your mood? In the last few years, evidence has shown that your gut microbiome can influence neural development, brain chemistry, emotional behavior, pain perception, and stress responses.
The gut microbiome refers to the broad spectrum of microorganisms found in the gastrointestinal tract. This vast array of microorganisms includes bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi (with hopefully the beneficial varieties outweighing the negative ones). Your gut microbiome plays a key role in nutrient and mineral absorption as well as enzyme synthesis. It also keeps digestion moving and your immune system healthy, but this system may also have a significant impact on your mood and brain health. In fact, the gut microbiome is sometimes referred to as “your second brain”.
New research has found that altering the balance of beneficial vs. disease-causing bacteria in your gut can trigger an emotional response based on the bacteria levels. The gut can communicate with your brain to influence your mood and emotional responses to environmental stressors. Research has even shown that some beneficial species of bacteria may be missing from the microbiome of people who suffer from depression. In addition, a 2019 study found that the those who suffered from depression had an increased quantity of undesirable bacteria commonly seen in Crohn’s disease, which suggests that inflammation may play a key role.
The health of your gut microbiome is a critical player in your overall health and wellness, but many people do not always know how important the microbiome can be. To keep this system healthy and functioning properly, be sure to eat a variety of organic fruits and vegetables every day. Try to include high-fiber foods (such as organic fruits, veggies, beans, and non-gluten grains and nuts) in order to increase your fiber intake. Another important boost for your gut microbiome is to take a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains at least 12 strains of beneficial bacteria. Trust your gut feeling!