Now more than ever, during these abnormal COVID-19 conditions, our mental health is playing as major a role in our lives as our physical health. What many people don’t realise however is the strong link between the two, and how in order to ensure good mental health your body, particularly your gut also needs to function properly.
Research has now shown that our gut and brain are connected, a partnership called the gut-brain axis. This link is formed through signaling between the nervous system in the digestive tract (the enteric nervous system) and the central nervous system, including the brain¹.
The same research labels the gut as a ‘second brain’ because it produces many of the same neurotransmitters as the brain. It’s estimated that 90% of serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters, is produced in the digestive tract . This explains why, when we’re anxious we often say we’ve got butterflies in our stomach or when we say we’ve got a gut feeling about something – it’s the same link sending you a physical message.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology have also shown that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may actually send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes. These findings it’s thought could explain why a higher than normal percentage of people with irritable bowel syndrome and other bowel problems develop depression and anxiety . This is reinforced by findings that show a microbial imbalance in the gut among clinically depressed patients .
Your gut and your mood
These findings are why over the last few years more experts have recognised probiotics as a way to balance these trillions of microorganisms residing in our gut, maintaining good mental health, a robust digestive system and importantly a strong immune system.
According to Professor Leon Dicks of Stellenbosch University, whose research and development saw the launch of what is South Africa’s fastest growing two strain biotic, entiro™, these strains colonise different sections of the gut which ensures optimal protection.
As science advances overall health benefits with one pill that can affect mind and body
1. Harvard Health Publishing. Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/probiotics-may-help-boost-mood-and-cognitive-function. (Accessed: 26 September 2020).
2. John Hopkins Medicine. The Brain-Gut Connection. Available at:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection. (Accessed: 26 September 2020).
3. Yong SJ, Tong T, Chew J, Lim WL. Antidepressive Mechanisms of Probiotics and Their Therapeutic Potential. Frontiers in Neuroscience, (2020).