The Brain-Gut Connection
The gut is often called the ‘second brain’. With more and more research demonstrating its powerful connection to our mental health, the gut-connection might be worth considering.
What is your gut?
Your gut microbiome is made from trillions of bacteria, microbes and fungi that live in your gastrointestinal tract. Fun fact: altogether, these microbes may weigh as much as 2–5 pounds (1–2 kg), which is roughly the weight of your brain!
These microbes play a crucial role in immune health, digestion and general brain functioning. New research shows that these microbes might play a significant role in your mental health, too.
The gut-brain axis
Simply put, the gut-brain axis is the two way communication between the two organs, and research suggests there’s a powerful connection. If you’ve ever felt butterflies in your stomach or nausea in nerve-wracking situations, you can probably relate!
This is why you might notice stomach problems when you’re stressed, nervous or going through difficult periods in life. In fact, recent studies have shown that people suffering from depression have a different gut diversity to those who don’t. Stress has also been shown to have an inflammatory effect on your body, which in turn can reduce the diversity of microbes in the gut and lead to problems with digestion.
So how can you support your own brain-gut connection?
How to support gut health
Nourish your gut health by boosting your fiber intake and adding more plant-based foods to your diet. Choose whole grain foods, ample amounts of fruits and vegetables and healthy protein sources like nuts, seeds and fish to nourish your gut microbes.
Mindfulness can help regulate stress levels, decreasing inflammation and therefore maintaining a healthy gut function. You can try deep breathing exercises, mediation or a journaling entry to help you return to the present moment. Halo’s guided journaling Moments such as Body Scan, Savoring and Mindful Mornings are easy ways to add a dose of mindfulness to your day!
A lack of sleep can have a big impact on our gut health, upsetting regular routines and increasing inflammation. Aim for 7-9 solid hours of sleep per night to support your gut-brain axis. If you have trouble winding down, the Before Bed category is full of calming journal entries to help you rest easy.
While there’s still a lot more to learn about the gut-brain axis, there is mounting evidence for the connection between your gut and your mental health. What’s more? There’s nothing to lose by improving your diet and lifestyle, and making your gut happier in the process!
Halo makes decreasing stress and forming healthy habits simple. Discover it on the App Store and become the best version of you!