Bloating. Pain. Digestive problems. These are all issues we often associate with poor gut health (aka “leaky gut.”) We even have compelling research that argues that less-than-optimal gut health can be a precursor to chronic inflammation and auto-immune disease.
But can it really be linked to your mood? Can having a healthy GI tract make for a happier YOU?
The science is edging towards a resounding “yes” and it turns out there’s a whole lot of chatter going on between your gut and your brain.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the words “leaky” and “gut” started to be used in the same sentence. Leaky gut refers to looser junctions and larger spaces in your gut lining that allow toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles to get through into your bloodstream. As you can imagine, this is not a great thing for your overall well-being as your immune system identifies these as a threat — hence the connection with auto-immune activity. What you might not have imagined, however, is just how much this can also impact your mental health. The “gut-brain axis” is a two-way communication apparatus, linking the emotional and cognitive centers of your brain with your intestines. More specifically, it’s the link between the bacteria in your gut and mood/brain function that’s been corroborated. In other words, your gut functions like a second brain. It turns out that microscopic bacteria play an important part not only in our physical well-being, but also in our mental and emotional well-being.
In fact, a NCBI study from 2015 found that, “Strong evidence suggests that gut microbiota has an important role in bidirectional interactions between the gut and the nervous system. It interacts with CNS (central nervous systems) by regulating brain chemistry and influencing neuro-endocrine systems associated with stress response, anxiety and memory function.”
So how do we fix our guts and make sure we are attaining the best version of our happy, high-functioning, selves? If you’re here, you’re probably motivated to take care of your health in as natural a way as possible, so we’ll assume you understand the importance of a good probiotic supplement. You might also be a believer in the power of fermented foods to encourage beneficial bacterial colonization… But bone broth isn’t a probiotic food or a fermented one. So what gives? How is bone broth good for your gut-brain communication? It all comes down to a healthy gut lining, and bone broth helps seals the leaks, resulting in better intestinal integrity. Even hydrolyzed collagen can also play a good role in it. A better gut lining means things stay where they belong, while a healthy gut flora level means your “second brain” is fine and dandy. Whether we are talking about brain fog, depression, anxiety, or any other disorder that can affect the brain, it makes sense to check that our gut is functioning optimally.
So, while it may not get you that promotion at work or the new car you’ve had your eye on, your morning cup of bone broth might just make you a little happier after all!