Do you ever find yourself wondering, “Why is the gut referred to as the second brain?” Watch any Snickers commercial, hanger makes us do irrational things. However, bouts of the munchies don’t even begin to cover the scope of the gut and brain connection.
There is a strong link between gut health and depression. Obviously, some of us are born with a mental health condition. For others, it may develop over time. Coincidentally, we’ve seen an increase in mental health issues in America that grows
We have a built-in system that tries to maintain balance within its own ecosystem. However, the Standard American Diet (SAD) enables us to mistreat our microbiome.
With the rise of food mass production, we’ve coincidentally seen an increase in mental health issues throughout America.
Our gut is home to trillions of microbes. These buggas influence everything from the health of our skin to how we digest to our food to our emotions. Gut to brain communication is constant and when one isn’t happy, it’s because the other isn’t. The backbone of these squad goals are a group of nerves that are referred to as a single entity–the vagus nerve.
What is the Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve is a set of nerve tissues that distent from the bottom of the brain stem. While referred to singularly, the vagus nerve is a set of nerves that branch off to the left and right side of the body.
Along the way, the nerves touch areas that are influenced by the parasympathetic system.
Therefore, the vagus nerve interacts with areas such as:
- Digestive Tract
Also known as the tenth cranial nerve, these nerves travel down to our colon. Suffice it to say, they see it all. This cred within the system is what makes the vagus nerve such as powerful instrument in understanding the gut and mental health connection.
What Does the Vagus Nerve Do for Gut and Brain Health?
On the nerves themselves are little neural tissues. These neural tissues are extremely sensitive…and chatty.
Neural tissues are essentially the snitches of the system. When all is well, they send out neutral impulses. In our younger years, these neural tissues aren’t so temperamental. That’s because our body hasn’t experienced the fallout from a lifetime of poor dietary decisions.
Consuming refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and high animal fat intake adds up during our lifetime. Eventually, these decisions start to catch to up to us. Arteries begin to clog from sticky plaques.
Cells start to die around the skin barrier and gut lining. All of these negative changes are a breeding ground for inflammation.
As inflammations spur, our neural tissues are on the job. They start to send negative impulses out to the system. These reactions travel back up to the brain. The brain responds accordingly, sending out neurotransmitters that cause unfavorable symptoms. For some these symptoms manifest as digestive issues. For others, it may alter your mental health.
How to Manage Gut Health and Mental Health
Inflammation is the root of all disease. Therefore, your goal should be to keep inflammation at bay. The best way to do this is to create an environment in your gut not conducive to the prosperity of inflammation.
Research suggests that inflammation and the harmful bacteria that co-exist with it thrive in an overly acidic gut. So, you want to alkalize your stomach. To create this balance, supplement with probiotic bacteria.
Studies find a correlation between cases of autism in children and low diversity of gut microbes. While that does not suggest probiotics can help autism, this study illustrates the gut and brain connection.
For those who do have a less diverse microbiome, the microbes that are present determine what your symptoms are. Therefore, cases of mood swings, bouts of depression, and fits of anxiety might be how your body reacts.
Our body is such a complex system. The unique genetic makeup of each individual is precisely why most over-the-counter probiotics don’t work.
Your diet, genetics, and medications all have a huge influence on your gut microbiota. Think of the microbes as if you were carrying a child. Yes, you too, men. Everything that enters your body, enters the mouths (for lack of better term) of your microbes.
What lives in your gut is determined by what you enter into the ecosystem. This includes topical lotions that we moisturize our skins with, the pesticides used to treat our foods, and the germs our co-workers brought into the office.
Seeing as we’re all precious little snowflakes, that is why we do at-home gut health testing. With the Thryve Gut Health Program, we take your sample and determine with bacteria are in your system. From there, we formulate a personalized probiotic for you. That way, you find the balance you are looking.
When you find balance, so do the neural tissues on the vagus nerve. Anxiety, depression, or mood swings associated with a gut and mind imbalance should improve. Remember, happy vagus nerve, happy you!