From the belly to the brain, what role does microbiota have when it comes to depression? Ashleigh Hamilton, Accredited Practicing Dietitian from Nourishing Minds, investigates.
I believe (and the science is starting to back me up) that a healthy diet has the potential to improve mental health. Previously we have focused on things like good fats and antioxidants to improve your brain health, but recently, we are learning more and more about the gut and the potential link it has with our brain.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “trust your gut” or “gut instinct”, and we all get “butterflies” when we are nervous. It’s easy to understand that our brain can influence our gut, so it shouldn’t feel like too much of a stretch to think that our gut could influence our brain. This is what we call the “gut brain axis”.
It’s easy to understand that our brain can influence our gut, so it shouldn’t feel like too much of a stretch to think that our gut could influence our brain.
How does the gut-brain axis work?
Our gut and our brain talk to each other through a few different channels including our nerves, hormones and even our immune system. The microbiome (bacteria living in our gut) can also use these channels to send messages to our brain. The microbiome produce molecules, like short chain fatty acids, amino acids and neurotransmitters, that act as signals that can be detected by the brain.
What about mental health?
It is thought that having sufficient lactobacillus in our gut can contribute to emotional resilience during stress.
With one in five Australians developing a mental illness, it’s just as important to nourish your mind as it is your body.