We tend to turn to food when we need comfort. The gooey brownies and the rich
macaroni and cheese feel like a balm to the troubled soul. We also use food to celebrate all the happy and merry occasions.
The cup of coffee is so important for our concentration. Many of us cannot even think of starting our day without tea; we just cannot focus otherwise.
The Gut-Mind Connection
It is not coincidence that food enjoys a strong relationship with your mind. We often use the word gut instinct to signal something that is more intuitive, but that has scientific reasoning.
Our gut conditions, like the flora balance, any disease etc. has an impact on the mind and mood. Likewise, mental health problems like stress also have influence over our gut. From imbalance of the gut microbes to more serious conditions like ulcer that require treatment from Gastroenterologist in Karachi, stress has grave implications for our gut.
Enertic nervous system
ENS, the enteric nervous system, refers to the layers of millions of neurons that are found in the gastrointestinal tract. Also known as the second brain, ENS essentially controls the process of digestion.
It also controls food breakdown and performs a principal role in the absorption of the nutrients extracted from the food.
ENS also plays a pivotal role in our emotional health. It leads to mood shifts, especially in cases where gut is performing sub optimally. For example, people suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) tend to experience more anxiety and depression.
Similarly, other gut problems like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas etc. also have repercussions that include great mood shifts.
This snippet of information has momentous value, as previously, it was assumed that depression and anxiety lead to gut problems. However, reality is, that the process is bilateral; mood and gut, both influence each other.
Depression and diet
Our gut has 90% of the serotonin receptors. This hormone is responsible for stabilizing mood. It also plays part in promoting happiness and feelings of wellbeing. It also moderates our sleep habits and digestion as well. Most of the antidepressants work by increasing the levels of the serotonin levels.
Thus, one can improve the symptoms of depression by eating well. Mediterranean diet, a healthy diet based around eating natural foods and cutting back on process food, has proven to be helpful in improving the symptoms of depression.
However, the converse is also true. When the balance of the microbes is disturbed in our gut, the impact can be felt in the brain as well. Not only does the disturbance lead to impaired communication between the gut and the brain, but it also causes mental health issues as well.
Foods that help our mind and gut
After understanding the role of the gut in our mental health, and vice versa, it is important also to realize how to benefit from this connection.
What you should aim for is food that reduces inflammation in the body, make the intestinal barrier stronger, and maintain the balance of the good and back flora in the gut.
Polyphenols, found in chocolate, olives, pomegranate, Probiotics, found in yogurt and other fermented foods, Fiber, found in whole grain cereal etc. are some of the food items that are extremely good for the gut, and the mind, and must be incorporated in the diet.
Implications for treatment
The realization of the connection between the mind and the gut also has great implications for the treatment options available to people; we need to improve our dietary habits to lower risk of mental health problems.
Moreover, it also opens the avenue for treatment for digestive issues. Your Gastroenterologist may also then use antidepressants to treat gut problems, since the issue is associated ultimately with the nervous system.