The Curious Connection Between Your Gut and Brain


image: The Verge

An imbalance in gut bacteria can throw off your physical health, but recent evidence is pointing to the effects on mental health as well. A fascinating article in The Verge opens with the story of a teenager suffering from OCD and ADHD that no psychiatrist was able to help. Until they met a Boston based expert that started asking about the girl’s digestive system. It turned out she had issues and after altering her diet and adding high doses of probiotics, most of her psychiatric symptoms disappeared!

Many of us have experienced upset stomach when nervous or upset. That’s the brain sending signals to our gut. But it turns out that our gut can send signals to the brain as well. This opens up an entire new world of possibilities for understanding and treating mental health conditions. It may explain why millions of Americans, consuming a modern, nutrient poor and toxin rich diet are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric challenges at rates that are higher than ever.

To be healthy, we need to manage trillions of bacteria living in our gut. If we don’t feed them well or if we nurture some while ignoring others, it affects both body and mind. One example is fiber. Eating whole foods guarantees that we are digesting multiple types of fiber, each handled by different types of bacteria in different parts of our intestines. But eating fiber fortified bars, yogurts, breads, and cereal – many who use the single type of fiber inulin – is not the same.

And for some weekend levity, let the wordplay begin:

  • A healthy mind in a healthy body
  • Gut feeling
  • _______________________________ ? (please contribute in the comments below)
  • Krystal

    Get your mind out of the Gut!

    • Vic

      more like get your mind INTO the gut, because the gut determines the condition of the mind.

  • Chris Kolb

    I have no doubt this is true. When I eat Gluten im constantly distracted, and have crazy mood swings, and often feel sad for no reason

  • Rossy

    This so relates to me and my mental health – I recently did a 14 day detox, eating only wholesome salads, grains, juices and smoothies (all prepared at home using organic, raw foods). 5 to 6 days in I was feeling amazing, so much more alert, loads happier & the general “low, depressed” feelings I always have had all but disappeared. After the detox I deliberately went back to a more processed food diet to prove to myself that “what is you eat” really does make you what you are. Within 5 days, I was once again depressed and pretty much immobile, not wanting to do anything and really not a nice person overall.
    From here on for me – it’s freshly made juices, smoothies and much more raw, clean eating – why? Because I am SO WORTH IT!! :)

  • diane

    why are we surprised about this. Our guts have been perfoming well for millennia without toxins which started with DDT in the early 1900′s. Our gut doesn’t know what to do with all that junk except try to neutralize it or send it out of the body anyway it can. It is bound to affect our brain function.

  • Emily

    Oh my goodness, is this true! We eat mostly whole foods and have a pretty good diet. But my in-laws were here for an extended visit and left a half box of Fiber One cereal in their wake. And I cannot throw food away. Just a little half cup on top of my yogurt and banana breakfast and I was in MISERY 8 hours later – terrible gut pains and gas. Same thing happened the next day, when I mentioned it to a friend…she asked if I ate anything with a lot of fiber. Wow, inulin….back away slowly, it’s not worth it!

    • Vicki

      …Fiber shouldn’t make your gut mad, you actually need it for your gut to feed off of. Now i’m not sure if Fiber one isn’t really fiber, but if it is then you may have a different issue

  • John

    It is just like me and my health.

    Almond Milk
    Nutrition Facts

  • peggy

    whenever I eat junk food more like donut or commercial cookie i got cramp that meant stomach to tell me don’t eat that. so i try avoid to eat junk food

  • DarrylM

    Raw milk (and a sever reduction in sugar!) really solved attention and behavior problems in my child. Diagnosed with mild ADHD at age 7 and in near constant struggles with school teachers and principals, the switch to raw milk and more fruits and vegetables and a severe reduction in sugar resolved the problem.