After the success of my first coffee workshop on Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind, I thought you might like a little summary of what we covered and talked about. I've been intrigued by gut health for several years having struggled with a history IBS and in the last couple of years, depression. Over the last few years, with help from specialists, I have found a link with eating gluten and my depression symptoms - eat gluten, depression comes back to bite. But how can that be the case? How can what I eat affect my head?
Well, our brain and gut are linked by 2 main areas - our nervous system and our gut microbes. As we know our gut has a huge surface area, to be precise, if we spread it out it would span the length of an entire tennis court. Now fill this surface area with over 500million neurons (the brain has 100billion) and you have what some refer to as the second brain. The brain and gut communicate by the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with the neck, heart, lungs and abdomen, and is responsible for sensory information. Studies have shown if you are stressed your vagus verve is not functioning properly, and if you have gut issues, your vagus nerve lacks tone which means it isn’t being used.
Studies have shown that when scientists pop mice in a bowl of water, depressed mice give up swimming a lot earlier than non depressed mice. So what? I hear you say, well, the same experiments showed that if you then gave the same depressed mice probiotics, they swam for considerably longer period of time before they gave up. If you then stopped the vagus nerve talking to the stomach, the mice gave up straight away. So there is a clear link between how the gut functions and it’s effect on the brain.
However it doesn’t stop there. Did you know that we have similar numbers of genes to a muddy little creature that lives in your garden? We have just over 21000 genes and yet worms have 20500. So if we have such similar numbers, what makes us so much for advanced and complex? Bacteria and fungi that live in our bodies. In fact, some even go to say we are 10% human as there are 10 bacteria to every 1 human cell.
Before you freak out knowing you are full of microbes, they offer some amazing benefits to us humans. They live off us but in return help regulate our hormones, fight off infection, breakdown food etc. We have trillions of good bacteria (and some bad) that make essential chemicals which we require to live a healthy life. Did you know that 90% of serotonin (our happy hormone) is actually made and stored in our gut? Or that gut bacteria help control cortisol (our stress hormone)? Or that they make short chain fatty acids out of fibre in our gut which then helps with our mental health. If they didn’t do their role of fighting off infection, our body becomes inflamed, which is a link with Alzheimer’s and other brain conditions, including depression.
So it goes with out saying that we want to look after our friendly bacteria, get rid of the bad and have as diverse population of microbes as possible so that we can benefit from their roles. Through exercise, relaxation, how you eat and what you eat, you can promote a fab little ecosystem for the microbes to thrive, making a healthier gut, and in turn a happier mind. If you want to find out more about how making simple changes to your lifestyle habits can boost your gut health, you can either book a spot on my small half day workshop on Tuesday 21st May from 10.30 to 14.30, or you can pop your name down to receive more information for my brand new programme - HealthyME.
HealthyME helps you move more, stress less and eat better. It’s my brand new 6 month course, which is due to open its doors to only 10 women on July 1st. For more details click here and I shall send you more information before it hits the press.
After the success of my first coffee workshop on Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind, I thought you might like a little summary of what we covered and talked about. I've been intrigued by gut health for several years having struggled with a history IBS and in the last couple of years, depression. Over the years, with help from specialists, I have found a link with eating gluten and my depression symptoms - eat gluten, depression comes back to bite. But how can that be the case? How can what I eat affect my head?...
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