One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. But even though conditions which affect our mood are relatively commonplace, we still don’t really know what causes them. It’s likely due to a complicated combination of factors for most people. But recently scientists have identified a surprising risk factor for diseases like depression and anxiety: poor gut health.
And those scientists have confirmed what I have long known to be true for I have often noticed, as I help people resolve their physical digestive and gut disorders, how their mood also changes when they are no longer struggling with IBS, painful bloating, constipation, diverticulitis flare-ups, and acid reflux. When I was carrying out colon hydrotherapy treatments, particularly on very constipated clients, once I began emptying their bowels, I could see their skin transform and their eyes become brighter and clearer.
Why using supplements might help your mental health.
They often walked into the clinic with the weight of the world on their shoulders but skipped out. The same can be said of my Just For Tummies supplements – they benefit overall health and wellbeing. I receive dozens of enquiries every week from people who have suffered for decades. They’ve tried everything (and so have their GPs to be fair) – drugs, blood tests, x-rays, cameras up and down, nothing to be found, but once we get them on a supplement protocol based on their symptoms, they notice improved mood and more energy. This is what Victoria had to say in March 2021:
“These supplements are great ! It’s still early days, but last month I started to take the Live Bacteria capsules along with the Digestive Enzymes tablets which Linda recommended for my IBS (something that was making me very miserable, along with symptoms of perimenopause). So far, I have experienced none of the old symptoms, and with a healthier diet and the ritual of taking the capsules, I feel more positive. I love the information on the website too – it’s been so helpful. Thank you.”
The gut is often overlooked as a key contributor to your mood, but it is actually very important. Several other factors can predispose an individual to suffering with depression or anxiety; these include genetics, life experiences, diet and nutrient deficiencies.
Improving your gut health is a powerful way of benefiting your mood and quality of life.
I speak from experience again – I receive so many lovely messages from happy customers who say that not only have their digestive symptoms greatly improved but they have increased levels of energy, improved mood and feel as though they have their life back.
In today’s modern world, life can be complicated, overwhelming, and exhausting. It is not uncommon to feel sad or anxious every now and then, so if you are regularly feeling down in the dumps and you can’t see an obvious reason for it, then you may need to address your gut health for a solution.
How does your gut health affect your mood?
Scientists have discovered that the link between your brain and your gut is bi-directional; that is, it goes both ways.
Any stress or emotional upheaval you’re going through can affect your digestion. In the same way, if your gut is imbalanced (perhaps due to a bacterial or yeast overgrowth), your mood will suffer. Intestinal distress has been linked to anxiety, stress, and depression.
The diverse population of intestinal bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract includes thousands of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacterial species. ‘Good’ bacteria are the beneficial type that help to prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts, which can disrupt normal functioning. When there is an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut, it can lead to digestive symptoms such as gut inflammation and intestinal permeability – and that imbalance of bacteria also has a powerful effect on your brain and therefore your mood.
How can bacterial imbalance affect your mental health?
Levels of serotonin are also linked to the way that poor gut health affects your mood. Serotonin is one of your ‘happy chemicals’ that are required for good mood and healthy sleeping patterns. Around 90% of your serotonin receptors are located in your gut, which has major implications for how your diet and nutritional status can affect your emotions.
The serotonin made in your gut is structurally similar to the serotonin in the brain; it’s just made in a different place by different cells. If your gut microbiome is fighting an overgrowth of bad bacteria, its ability to make enough serotonin will be severely affected.
Gastrointestinal infections, yeast overgrowth, leaky gut, and other causes of dysbiosis can have a catastrophic effect on your mood. In short, left untreated, your poor gut health can lead to worsening moods.
If you have any of the following mood-related symptoms, poor gut health could be to blame:
- Frequent headaches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor sex drive
- Weight loss or gain
- Fidgeting or restlessness
- Inability to focus
- Teeth grinding
- Poor work productivity
- Drinking alcohol more frequently
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Crying or emotional outbursts
- Feeling overwhelmed by pressure
- Inability to relax
- Quick to anger
- Poor memory
- Lack of sense of humour
- Frequent indecision
The good news is that there are ways to treat both your mood and your digestive symptoms. One of the easiest ways to do this is by taking a good probiotic supplement, such as my Just For Tummies Live Bacteria that contains a variety of strains of live bacteria that will help rebalance the gut. Take one twice daily before meals.
Foods that boost both gut health and mental health:
- Fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi
- Fibre-rich foods such as beans, legumes, oats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables all help to improve memory and overall mood, as well as decreasing inflammation in the body
- Foods rich in Vitamin D, which regulates your microbiome and reduces gastrointestinal inflammation – egg yolks, tuna, salmon, orange juice, and fortified milk
- Eating protein decreases feelings of depression because of the production of serotonin, which improves your mood. Good sources of protein include eggs, milk, yoghurt, lean beef, turkey, chicken, fish, broccoli, oats, and nuts
- Omega 3s help lower cholesterol, increase memory and cognitive function, and reduce sugar cravings. Foods rich in Omega 3s include walnuts, flax seeds, salmon, sardines, and mackerel
Why not try one (or more) of my gut-friendly recipes which are free to download here.
The recipes have been put together with your gut health in mind; they are gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. I can also highly recommend this recipe for Mood Enhancing Chocolate Walnut Brownies – a delicious and nutritious pick-me-up!
They are made with cacao powder which contains a mood-enhancing compound that releases endorphins in the brain. It is also rich in magnesium which may help improve feelings of tiredness and fatigue, as well as antioxidants to fight inflammation. The walnuts in the recipe further boost the antioxidant content, as well as nourishing the beneficial bacteria in the gut and delivering a healthy supply of Omega 3s to help reduce stress levels.
How can you strengthen your mental health?
As well as a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet, don’t forget regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep.
Rebekka Louise was kind enough to share how she was able to reclaim her digestive and emotional health by taking my For Women probiotic capsules:
“I’ve been taking the Just For Tummies ‘For Women’ probiotic capsules for a few years now. I suffered for years with chronic reoccurring water infections being a Type 1 diabetic.
I tried everything – antibiotics, creams, gels, natural remedies, but the infections always came back.
Since taking For Women, I’ve not had a single infection! No symptoms, no issues.
They’ve also helped me so much with bloating! I never realised how badly the water infections had affected me and my life, in so many different ways, until Just For Tummies literally, changed my life!!
Thank you so much, Linda, for all of your help and advice!”