If you have ever experienced re-occurring issues of nausea and upset stomach, bloating and indigestion, you know that on those days, you may also find that you can’t think as clearly, or concentrate very well.
Maybe you're also more irritable or depressed, or you just feel overall a little blue and down in the dumps.
One of the biggest trending areas of current health research lies in gut health.
Researchers are finding more and more relationships and connections between the gut and brain, including how the gut affects our concentration, mood, sleep, skin and even immune system function.
This means that gut health is becoming an important area of health and wellness that deserves our attention, even if you don’t have any overt symptoms of gut distress.
Read on to find out how the gut may be influencing your overall health and wellbeing:
1. Gut and brain
Introducing the gut brain axis: the idea that there is a connection between the gut and brain and that they are able to communicate between one another and send and receive signals. Scientists are calling the gut the second brain, as the walls of the gastrointestinal tract are lined with nerve cells, which are extremely sensitive and able to communicate nervous signals from the intestines. While the main role of these cells is to function in digestion, stimulating the release of enzymes, and controlling blood flow, they are also there to talk to our main brain. It is this communication that sends information that can affect our mood, anxiety and happiness levels.
2. Gut and immunity
When the gut becomes compromised, or is not as healthy as it should be, it affects its ability to process food, absorb nutrients and separate the digestible matter from the waste. This latter task, can be at the root of allergy development, whereby our gut allows particles to enter the bloodstream that are not typically allowed through and the immune system views them as foreign, mounting an immune response – an allergic reaction. Furthermore, improperly digested food particles are the cause of issues such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
3. Gut and skin
An imbalanced gut biome, whereby the proper amounts of healthy and unhealthy bacteria are not present within the gut – known as dysbiosis – can lead to inflammation. This causes the gut lining to become more permeable and toxins are more capable of entering the blood stream. When this happens, not only can allergies result, as explained above, but the body may also try to eliminate these wastes and toxins via the skin. Our skin is a very delicate organ and when toxins enter and upset the balance, it can result in skin breakouts.
4. Gut and sleep
Our sleep patterns are governed by the release of certain hormones at certain times, and the presence or absence of these hormones in our body dictates when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake. One of the main hormones acting in this role is melatonin, which makes you start to feel sleepy. Melatonin supply is boosted by the beneficial bacteria in the gut, so when you have low levels of good bacteria, you may also have low levels of melatonin and have a hard time sleeping as a result. In addition, the gut micro biome has its own daily rhythms, which are closely connected to the body’s sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. A disruption to the biome, from poor diet, or compromised digestion, can cause a disruption to our sleep wake cycle as well.
By: Laura Peill