Gut health is one of our generation’s most important health trends. There is now a major focus on how, by altering the make-up of the microbiome (the sum of microbes in the body), we can take health and beauty to new levels.
If you think you’ve had a gutful hearing about “gut health”, think again, for very different reasons – it can significantly boost mental health and happiness levels.
“Listen to your gut” is a phrase typically uttered when it comes to following your instincts. But there’s a very real and powerful connection between the brain and the gut.
It was Synergie Skin founder Terri Vinson who got me exploring this.
In her blog about her recent stay at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Terri reported: “I particularly enjoyed the lecture on the importance of gut heath. I didn’t realise that more than 90 percent of serotonin (our feel-good hormone) is produced by bacteria in the gut and not the brain. It really is a case of healthy gut, healthy mind!”
I certainly didn’t realise this either, and it could literally change yours and your clients’ lives.
For the past several decades, researchers and scientists have known about the direct line of communication that is found between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, according to Dan Hurley, award-winning American science journalist.
But this information is only now filtering into the mainstream consciousness.
“The nervous system as we know it first began in the gut,” says Dan. “The central nervous system (CNS), which is found in the brain and in the spinal cord, evolved from what is called the enteric nervous system (ENS), or the nerve tissue and neurotransmitters belonging to the gastrointestinal tract.
“Because both the brain and the gut share much of the same tissue, there is an uncanny relationship between the nervous system and the digestive system.
“This is why, for example, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are sometimes prescribed for bouts of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
“SSRIs are typically used to treat depression. However, physicians have discovered that when treating depression in patients with IBS, that these patients also find relief from irritable bowel symptoms when they take an SSRI drug.
“These findings have been confirmed with MRI imaging: there is a clear relationship between gut function and brain function.
“What exactly is going on? For starters, serotonin is a neurotransmitter. It is responsible for regulating things in the body like mood, appetite, and sleep.
“The right amount of serotonin in the brain produces a relaxed and positive feeling.
“As it turns out, approximately 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is located in the gut.
“Do you want to get happy? Boosting your gut health with beneficial bacteria will not only improve digestion, but it can benefit your mood!”
GETTING TO THE GUTS OF IT
Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said that all disease starts in the gut but it has taken us around 2500 years to catch up with his way of thinking.
We now know good gut health improves immunity and resilience, fighting off serious diseases, and reducing chances for obesity.
Signs of a weak gut can include everything from bloating, constipation, indigestion, food intolerances, allergies, ridged fingernails, unexplained fatigue and depression to medical concerns such as arthritis, histamine reactions, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s and coeliac diseases, thyroid problems and diabetes.
Check out some of our previous stories about healing the gut and maintaining its health, with information from experts such as The Beauty Chef, Carla Oates, nutrition and health counsellor Simone Kopkas and holistic health champion Lee Holmes.
AND THEN THERE’S THE SKIN …
Most of us are aware of the benefits of probiotics, (good) microbes that promote a healthy gut and digestion.
What you mightn’t realise is that skin can’t perform either of these basic functions without microbes; tiny, single-celled organisms including bacteria, viruses and yeasts.