Is Your Gut Affecting Your Mood?
Think about it, have you ever had butterflies before a presentation, or have been sent running to the washroom when you’re feeling extra nervous about something? Clearly our mental health plays a role in our digestive health, but it also works the other way around.
With more research coming out each day, we’re seeing more and more how our digestive system can impact our mental health, whether it’s occasional stress or long-term depression. In fact, there are a few ways that all of this can work together!
1. Blood sugar.
Our blood sugar has both short and long-term impacts on our mental health. In the short term, I usually call this “hangry”. When we don’t eat regularly, or eat meals too high in sugar, we may have crashes, which lead us to feel extremely hungry, easily frustrated, even shaky. To combat this, try to keep healthy snacks on hand like sugar-free apple sauce!
Your cortisol and your blood sugar actual go hand-in-hand. Cortisol is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands, and is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone”. Our cortisone can be spiked from a few things, like:
Stress from work
High-intensity exercises for a long time
When we let ourselves get too hungry, we put our bodies under stress, which taxes our adrenal glands. If you are feeling constantly fatigued, anxious, or get sick frequently, it may be time to explore how your adrenals may be affecting your life.
Serotonin has been called one of our “happy hormones” for years. In fact, it is considered both a neurotransmitter as well as a hormone and is produced in our intestines and brains. Yes, you heard me - it is produced in our intestines! While serotonin has many other roles aside from simply keeping our mood in check, this is important to remember as it also can change our bathroom habits, impact our memory, and can impact more severe mental health issues.
Some serotonin boosting foods include those that are high in the amino acid, tryptophan:
Seeds & nuts
In many cases of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), there is some link to stress. Usually, added stress causes us to run for the bathroom (IBS-D), or forgo it altogether (IBS-C). This is a case where we usually see how the mind plays a role in the gut.
5. Intestinal bacteria.
You likely know that our intestines are a full ecosystem of their own with both “good” and “bad” bacteria. Research has explored the link between certain bacteria and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
If you have questions about how your diet may impact your mental health, get in touch!