The gut (and its healthy bacteria, aka gut flora) does much more than just digest food. It helps regulate metabolism, helps the body fight infection, makes up most of our immune system, affects how well the brain operates and contributes to overall health. If we do not have healthy gut flora, both the body and mind suffer.
Evidence is coming out of recent research linking anxiety, depression, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and autism to unhealthy gut flora. The gut and the central nervous system work together to form the enteric nervous system (ENS) which makes use of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, glutamate and acetylcholine. These chemicals help the brain to regulate mood, memory and thinking processes. If your gut flora is not healthy, then your body lacks the proper amounts of neurotransmitters to keep your brain healthy and functioning well.
If you want to get rid of anxiety, depression or just want to have your brain functioning optimally, start by healing your gut. Some actions that will promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria include:
- Eating or drinking fermented foods
- Taking prebiotics and probiotics
- Eating more vegetables and fruits