When I was at a workshop a few months ago for the Governments Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry I mentioned something about the connection between our gut health and mental health. I was shocked that no one in the group I was part of knew what I was talking about.
I have done quite a bit of reading over the years about mental illness and anxiety, and when I can I go to any speaking events about wellbeing, so this is something I have become quite familiar with, and want to share.
You may, or may not, know that Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood naturally. "Serotonin also impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. It’s the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting. Serotonin also helps:
- reduce depression
- regulate anxiety
- heal wounds
- stimulate nausea
- maintain bone health
And 90% of our Serotonin is produced in our gut. Therefore if you have an unhealthy gut, it can't produce the levels of serotonin that the body needs for the above functions.
"Serotonin is our happy, calm, content hormone. It is the hormone that helps us feel like there is nothing for which we want in this world. It makes us content with our lot in life and helps keep panic at bay." Libby Weaver, Rushing Woman's Syndrome.
If you're like me you find yourself standing in front of the fridge or pantry after dinner looking for something, you don't know what, but something. This is a typical sign of a lack of serotonin.
From the reading I've done (and I'm no expert on this matter), things such as leaky gut and bad gut health can lead to a decrease in the level of serotonin produced, which means that that we don't have enough of this hormone to feel happy, calm and content.
I'm not an angel when it comes to nutrition, I have a shocking sweet tooth, and I know this isn't good for my gut health. So I try to eat well 80% of the time and allow myself the odd treat now and then, because, well I'm human afterall.
I also take supplements - a gut enzyme and pre/probiotic - to help support my gut health, and to develop the good gut bacteria needed to ensure a healthy gut. And I've noticed a difference. My anxiety is less prevalent, and the panic attacks are less common. I can't put this 100% down to the enzyme and probiotic, as I've adopted a few things into my lifestyle, but I feel like they are helping.
Maybe this will spark an interest in you to find out more about this connection and it might make a difference to your mental wellbeing. I've got lots of books if anyone's interested :)