In recent years, studies have shown clear evidence to support a more holistic approach as key to overcoming many health issues. We now know there is a clear connection between our gut health and our overall health, including mental health and issues like anxiety and depression. So, can turning the focus to our nutrition help our mental wellbeing? Nexba are here to tell us more!
2020 presented more than a few challenges, and we're not just talking about those extra quarantine kilos. Psychologically speaking it's been a doozy, with the Black Dog Institute estimating that 25% to 33% of the community are experiencing high levels of worry and anxiety.
Your tummy could have more to do with this than you think. Recent studies have shown that gut health can majorly affect your mental health. So, we thought we should give you the rundown on the link between mental health and what’s happening down in your gut. Strap in, team. It’s time to talk about feelings.
The Gut Brain Connection
The connection between gut health and mental illness is not new news. In the early 20th century, a clever cookie named George Porter Phillips noticed that his patients who suffered from depression also suffered from digestion issues such as constipation. Phillips prescribed these patients a healthy diet and a fermented milk drink known as kefir that contained the probiotic named Lactobacillus to see if targeting the gut could ease the melancholia.
Amazingly, of the 18 patients Phillips tested, 11 were cured completely and 2 others showed significant improvement, offering some of the first scientific evidence that gut health and mental health are connected.
A Double Edged Sword
More recent studies have suggested that a gut influenced by stress can lead to the type of inflammation that's connected to depression and anxiety. To make it even worse, the harmful effects of stress can weaken your 'gut barrier', making you even more susceptible to illness, exhaustion and deficiencies. Basically, increased stress = weakened gut health.
But, There's Good News!
The good news is that while some bacteria can make you feel low, others can improve your mood and support your mental health. Think about how fab you feel after eating a piece of fruit versus how crappy and bloated you can feel after having a big burger and fries. We’re not saying you should say goodbye to Maccas for good (because hey, we’re only human!), but introducing more gut-friendly food into your diet is always a good idea.
Three Simple Ways to Boost Your Gut Health
After three quick hacks to boost your gut health right now? Look no further than your shopping trolley. Gut-friendly foods to add to your shopping list that support your mental health include:
Fermented food: yep, you guessed it! Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, yoghurt and switchel all contain probiotics and healthy bacteria that help balance your gut microbe. If you’re buying a probiotic, be sure to check that the bacteria are robust enough to make it to your gut intact! Look out for Bacillus coagulans, these bad boys are the Rolls Royce of probiotics.
Fish: Oily fish like salmon and prawns contain special fatty acids that help with memory, boost your mood and can even reduce anxiety.
Colourful fruits and veggies: We’ve always been told to eat our veggies, and for a good reason! They contain important vitamins and antioxidants that can help us deal with stress.
More than a century after Phillip's experiment, we're now aware that a happier gut can lead to a happier mind. And while we can all experience 'off' days, eating well and focusing on gut-friendly foods might just help maintain a lighter, brighter mood. Cheers to that!
Nexba are all about making drinks that taste great AND do good. They have spent years working on a unique, robust strain of good gut bacteria that’s strong enough to make it to your gut intact and you can find these wonder probiotics in most their products.
You can check out Nexba's range of delicious and good for you drinks on Nexba or follow them on Instagram for more information about their products. They've also shared an exclusive discount code with the RY community: RYMYSTERY for 10% off online until 28/02/21.