I have had problems with my gut on and off throughout my life.

I have also had waves of mild-to-medium bouts of depression.

I never thought that they could possibly be connected until now…

Let’s just say that the modern diet and lifestyle is not doing any favors for our gut bacteria (or mental health). High stress, poor diet, and prescriptions all kill the good bacteria in the gut while increasing the bad bacteria. This is not a good recipe for health.

For some of us, supporting good bacteria in the gut is the path to feeling better mentally and physically. The good news is that we have a solution!

The brain is much more connected to the gut than what we used to think.

Recent research suggests that there is a strong link between the brain and the digestive tract and that the bacteria in the gut have a tremendous impact on our mood, thoughts, and behavior.

There is mounting evidence showing that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, which affect pain, cognition, and mood.

Stephen Collins, a gastroenterology researcher at McMaster University, has found that unhealthy gut bacteria play an important role in causing anxiety, depression, and other forms of abnormal behavior. On the other hand, good bacteria reduce anxiety and stress hormones.

In one research, Collins took gut bacteria of anxious mice and put them into calm ones. After the transplant, the calm mice begin acting nervously. The same results were seen with humans too.

According to studies by Dr. John Cryan, a neuropharmacologist and microbiome expert at the University College Cork, gut bacteria can change brain chemistry.  He discovered that after removing the good bacteria in mice, they act in ways similar to human depression, anxiety, and autism.

Healing Your Gut Can Improve Your Mental Health

Here are 3 little-known facts that can help nourish your good bacteria and get rid of the bad ones. By implementing this information, you will feel better both physically and mentally.

1. Consume Probiotics In Food and Supplement Form

Increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Probiotic supplements add good germs to your digestive system and provide the system with a wide range of beneficial bacteria that can reduce your susceptibility to stress.

It has been scientifically shown that mice are less anxious when they are given probiotics.  Many other studies show that humans feel less anxious, less depressed, and less stressed out when supplementing with probiotics.

One study has found that probiotics stimulate the production of more GABA, an amino acid, and neurotransmitter.  The same study suggested that probiotics not only stimulate the production of this relaxing amino acid, but they improve the sensitivity of the GABA receptors in the brain too.

Other probiotics have also exhibited an ability to reduce stress hormones and increase serotonin, tryptophan, and omega-3 fats in the brain.

Eating probiotic good is a good idea, as it promotes proliferation of friendly bacteria in the gut and supports the brain.  One study has found that young adults experience less anxiety of they eat fermented food.

2. Feed The Good Guys With Prebiotics and Resistant Starch

Probiotics in the gut need to be nurtured and supported by eating or supplementing prebiotics. Prebiotics cannot be digested by humans, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract and stimulate the growth of many strains of good bacteria.

According to a 2015 paper published by Dr. Phil Burnet, a neurobiologist at Oxford University, people who ate probiotics have lower cortisol levels, the major stress hormone.

A research by Burnet found that prebiotics promotes brain health in humans and accelerate the growth of probiotics in mice, leading to increased levels of neurotransmitters and reduce anxiety. Feeding the good bacteria promotes overall health, both physical and mental.

Probiotic- rich foods include squash, onions, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

3. Avoid Antibiotics (unless absolutely necessary)

Antibiotics don’t make a difference between good and bad bacteria, meaning that they destroy them both.  Any antibiotic treatment is likely to wipe out the good bacteria in your gut, worsening symptoms of asthma, deteriorating mental health, and more.

So, as much as antibiotics save lives, they destroy your health if they are not necessary. It has been shown that antibiotic use leads to changes and loss of diversity in the composition of gut bacteria, causing chronic health complications.

Improper and excessive use can lead to serious long-term effects, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

According to an article published in Nature, antibiotics cause notable changes in gut bacteria, and babies delivered via caesarean section or by a mother given antibiotics during pregnancy will have a low and insufficient level of friendly bacteria.