Anxiety, Fatigue, Burnout and Your Gut
Research is finally emerging to prove the link between diet and nutrition in mood and mental wellbeing,
The importance of a balanced diet for good mental health has been key to widespread beliefs and practices for many years, however, there has been a lack of strong scientific evidence demonstrating this.
Research is finally starting to emerge on food and nutrients associated with mental health and disease, according to the review of current research on the topic.
Rebalancing the gut
Some areas include:
- Dysbiosis – an overgrowth of pathogens within the small and/or large intestine is known to cause gut-brain dysfunction through increased intestinal permeability, inflammation, and impaired nutrient absorption.
- Diet: Particularly low dietary fibre, have been shown to negatively affect the gut-brain axis due primarily to their effect on reducing gut microbiota diversity
- Nutritional deficiencies – A lack of neuro-active nutrients has an obvious detrimental effect on the gut-brain axis, as do short-chain fatty acids that are produced in the colon from dietary fibre, which maintain gut integrity.
- Stress – Release of cortisol can alter the microbiota profile (bacteria).
- Lifestyle– Poor sleep, lack of physical activity, and increased alcohol intake can all alter the balance of bacteria and disturb the gut-brain axis.
Fibre and your GUT
Fibre plays a fundamental role in restoring and maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract. While supplying softer, bulkier and regular stools, It feeds bacteria in the colon which plays a major role in keeping our gut wall intact and maintaining a very strong immune system for our body.
While most whole foods contain a combination of fibre categories, some contain more than others and can play different health-related roles in the body.
(Soluble) Feeds good bacteria, slows the rate of digestion and absorption (fuller for longer, stabilises blood sugar), binds with cholesterol and toxins and excretes it out of the body.
(Insoluble) Adds bulk and softness to stools, helps prevents constipation and haemorrhoids and the sweeping of toxins.
(Resistant Starch) acts as a prebiotic by supplying food to beneficial bacteria.
The role of the microbiome with diet and mental health and its links:
- Connection to the development and function of the brain
- Involvement in response to stress, anxiety, depression and cognition
- Involvement in the regulation of serotonin metabolism
- Links to ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and anorexia nervosa
- Maternal microbiome affects infant development and mental health
- Stress disturbs the microbiome, negatively impacting digestive health
- A high-quality diet regulates the microbiome and reduces stress and inflammation in the brain, maintaining cognitive function
- High fibre diets and the Mediterranean diet – increase microbiome diversity, and reduces depression
- Fermented foods can improve microbiome, altering gut physiology and mental health
Adan, R., van der Beek, E., Buitelaar, J., Cryan, J., Hebebrand, J., & Higgs, S. et al. (2019). Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 29(12), 1321-1332. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.10.011