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It Takes Guts: How Your Gut Impacts Your Mood

Our gut is not only responsible for digestion and absorption but also plays a significant role in neurotransmitter production (our body's chemical messengers), immune defense (keeping you healthy), and is the hub for the microbiome (home for trillions of microorganisms).

What affects gut health?

  • Stress

  • Physical Activity

  • Diet

  • Sleep Quality

  • Medications/Antibiotics

How can I maintain a healthy gut?

  • Good stress management promotes parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) activity which increases blood flow to the gut for digestion and absorption

  • Moderate physical activity stimulates gastric motility and detoxing (bowel activity)

  • Diet rich in various fruits, vegetables, fermented foods and whole grains increases fiber that feeds the gut bacteria which produces important brain chemicals messengers and other nutrients the body needs and maintains intestinal muscle tone

  • Sleep quality affects the body’s circadian clock which influences when it is time to feast or fast (eat or sleep) and influences brain health and activity

  • Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist about probiotics use after antibiotic treatment

Fun facts about the gut:

  • Contains 100 trillion bacteria that make up the gut microbiome

  • The microbiome is responsible for making 90% of the body’s serotonin (the “happy” hormone that stabilizes our mood and feelings of well-being)

  • Can function separately from the brain

  • Communicates to and from the brain and influences brain activity

  • A diet high in refined sugars, high in sodium and saturated/trans fats, lacking in fiber and high in pro-inflammatory foods is associated with depression and anxiety (i.e. ultra-processed foods)

To learn more about the gut/brain connection, how to maintain a healthy gut built around your lifestyle, contact us today for a nutritional consultation or additional resources on promoting gut/brain health.

Author: Annalee Althouse, BS, RDN

Editor: Marley Carnes, MS, RDN, CSCS

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