Gut Health and Brain Connection

When it comes to mental health there are lifestyle factors that can affect you negatively or positively. Such factors are social interaction, sleep quality, life experiences, contact with nature, and diet.

The interesting thing is that the Western Medical Establishment deals with mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors largely, by prescribing medications. The common belief in the psychiatry field is that gut health and brain connection are mostly unrelated. In other words, the psychiatric medical field mainly considers that autism, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders come from psychological factors, genetics, childhood, and adulthood experiences.

But not everyone agrees! 

Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, helped hundreds of thousands if not millions of individuals who had mental and physical chronic diseases and were either healed completely or to a certain level of success relying on food as medicine and not on prescribed medications. The connection between gut health and the brain is very much intimate. 

The Other Brain

The gut or more specifically the gastrointestinal system is where the enteric nervous system exists. This nervous system is inside the intestines and the stomach where it acts independently without the brain involvement, thus many scientists call the gut the second brain. At the same time, there is the brain-gut axis, which means there is reciprocal communication going on all the time from the gut to the brain and from the brain to the gut via the vagus nerve.   

Continuous Stream of Toxins 

When a child or an adult has an abnormal gut flora and leaky gut syndrome there will be a flow of incoming toxins from pathogenic microbes that go through the leaky gut wall into the bloodstream and from there these toxins will spread all over the organs in the body and the brain with no exception. These toxins can penetrate the brain-blood barrier and wreak havoc which can cause all types of mental problems. 

Gut Health and Brain Relationship

Scientists now believe that the gut is the largest endocrine system in the body thanks to the sheer number of gut flora, (aka gut microbiome).  

This massive community of microbes produces all types of metabolite chemicals like hormones, neurotransmitters, and other substances communicating with the rest of the body including the brain, thus, microbes can have a significant influence on human behavior. Likewise, it can also have a damaging effect on mental health when these microbes produce chemical toxins causing a child to have mental disorders like:

  • Autism
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyslexia

And adults with unhealthy gut are not immune either, they are prone to:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety 
  • PTSD

Final Thoughts

It does not matter how far any organ in the body is from the brain, they are all connected, and they function and communicate as one intact team, so the relationship of gut health and brain is very real.

Therefore, utilizing a diet that maintains a healthy gut as a primary intervention in helping individuals, should be one of the main tools to consider in addition to using other tools such as social support, quality of sleep, being out in nature, and controlling stress. It is true that social interaction and support, life experiences, sleep quality, and stress management are important for our mental health but we also need to understand that diet is a major factor.

We are not only feeding our body cells but the microbes, and if we create an imbalance by feeding the pathogenic microbes sooner than later, these bad microbes will cause all sorts of mental disorders. Thus, don’t forget for a second that the gut health and brain relationship is a large contributor to our mental health.