Updated: Jun 1
Researchers have found that a lesser known nervous system in our guts (our "second brain") communicates with the brain in our head. Together, "our two brains" play a key role in certain diseases in our bodies and overall health. It is often called the Gut-Brain Axis? It's described as communication between the gut microbiota and the brain through the central and enteric nervous systems. That means the brain can impact the gut, and the gut can influence the brain. How these messages are delivered is still a bit of a mystery, but we do know that vitamins metabolized by bacteria in the gut (among other things) play a part. We also know that food provides energy for the brain and nutrients for hormone production, AND nutrients help preserve brain function as people age. Furthermore, it’s known that changes in the microbiome are associated with immune health, weight, and mental health - in fact, research has shown there are differences in the gut microbiome between people who have major depressive disorder and those who don’t! Given the fact that weight gain, anxiety, depression and, of course, hormone health are all challenges we face in midlife, it's essential to maintain a healthy gut. Eating whole foods vs. processed foods and foods rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented fare can be critical. Getting plenty of fiber is also important. Pre/probiotic supplementation might also be a good idea but should only be taken under a doctor's or nutritionist's guidance. Do you think your gut health might be affecting your mental health and hormones?