The concept of a ‘gut-brain axis’ has gained significant attention in the field of modern neuroscience, shedding light on how our gut can play a crucial role in our overall wellbeing and even our mental health. The gut, sometimes referred to as our ‘second brain’, is not just responsible for digestion. It communicates with our brain through a complex network of nerves, hormones and chemicals.
Let’s explore the gut-brain axis in more detail and find out whether improving your gut health could positively impact mental wellbeing.
Investigating the gut-brain axis
The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication system that links our gut and brain. It comprises a complex network that allows for constant communication between the two critical organs.
The main parts of the gut-brain axis include the gut lining, gut microbiome – including the trillions of bacteria residing in our gut – the immune system and the enteric nervous system, which is called our body’s ‘second brain’ thanks to its ability to function independently and regulate our gut’s functions.
What is the connection between our gut and brain?
The gut and the brain are connected through the vagus nerve – the longest cranial nerve, running from brainstem to abdomen. The vagus nerve allows for bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, as it carries signals from the gut to the brain and vice versa.
The gut microbiome also plays a significant role in communication. Billions of bacteria produce neurotransmitters, such as feelgood chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, that can influence our mood and behaviour. Moreover, the gut microbiota produce short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and support brain health.
How gut health can affect our mood and emotions
Research has shown that gut health can have a significant influence on our emotions. For example, the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin is mainly produced in the gut. Serotonin can help regulate mood, sleep, appetite, learning, sexual behaviour, body temperature and a variety of other important functions.
But imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to decreased serotonin, potentially contributing to anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. Inflammation in the gut caused by poor gut health can also trigger an immune response, leading to the release of cytokines – inflammatory chemicals that can negatively influence mood and cognition.
The role of probiotics in supporting gut health
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support gut health by restoring the balance to your gut microbiome. They can be found in various fermented foods such as yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, taken as supplements, or incorporated into your diet through probiotic concentrates.
Both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum, for instance, have been shown to help with mood improvement, and you will find these in Meluka products like our Care+ Gut Nutrition Powder. Research has also shown that Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help with symptoms of anxiety, with the former being a probiotic strain that helps reduce cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Both strains are found in our P3 Gut Builder range.
By boosting your probiotics consumption, it could result in a positive impact on your overall mental wellbeing by balancing your gut and supporting the production of neurotransmitters. Certain strains of probiotics – such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which you will find in a variety of Meluka products including our Complete Gut Nutrition System – have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and may help regulate your mood.
At Meluka, our range of probiotic products can help improve gut health and support your overall mental wellbeing. If you are ready to improve your gut health and add things to your diet that can contribute to a healthier gut-brain axis, why not start your journey today?
The gut-brain axis is a fascinating and complex connection that plays a significant role in our physical and mental wellbeing. Probiotics can play an influential role on gut health, which is why incorporating gut-friendly products into your daily routine can be a proactive step towards a healthier gut-brain axis.
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