There are links between our gut health, mental health, and general well-being. When we have a deeper understanding of HOW our body functions when it’s in harmony, we tend to have an easier time keeping things working correctly and healthily.
The connection between our gut, brain, and microbiome profoundly influences our overall health. The GBA can impact physical and digestive issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which makes sense, but it also impacts mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
What Is The Gut-Brain Axis (GBA)?
The gut-brain axis, or gut-brain connection, refers to the connection and communications between our gut and brain. The vagus nerve connects our brain and gut; it’s the largest nerve in our body. Our vagus nerve allows two-way communication to take place.
We also have several additional pathways involved in the complex functioning of the GBA, including communication through the endocrine system, gut hormones, chemical messengers, and neurotransmitters.
Many neurotransmitters and hormones are made in our gut, like GABA or gamma-aminobutyric, serotonin, and dopamine. There are also gut byproducts of carbohydrate fermentation; short-chain fatty acids are one example.
To make a long story short, what happens in our gut can and will directly influence our brain function and behavior.
The Microbiomes Role In The GBA
PubMed Central published research on some findings on the brain-gut-microbiome axis. Remember that the GBA hasn’t been studied deeply until the last several years.
Our gut microbiome refers to trillions of microorganisms living mainly in our gut. No worries, many of them are supposed to be there. These microorganisms are primarily comprised of bacteria that live in the gut. They directly communicate from our gut, through the vagus nerve, and up to our brain.
The GBA is a complex interconnected circuit, meaning any time an issue arises within the communication loops, it can potentially affect and impact our entire system. Any miscommunication between the three-way system can cause a range of health conditions, including depression, anxiety, IBS, autism, and obesity.
The GBA Connection and Our Health
The National Library of Medicine published a simple breakdown of the issues arising from miscommunication or issues within the system. This interaction within the GBA plays an essential role in gastrointestinal functions, as well as certain feelings or emotional states and intuitive decision-making. The GBA connection ensures the proper maintenance of:
- Gastrointestinal Homeostasis
It also has various effects on our motivation and higher cognitive functions. Disturbances within the GBA system can be linked to multiple disorders, including the following.
- Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs)
- Inflammatory Disorders (IBS, IBD)
- Eating Disorders
Treatment Options For GBA Dysfunction
While the gut-brain axis and the gut-brain-microbiome axis are highly complex, several treatment options exist to address them. Key options include:
- Psychological Therapies
- Diet Therapy
- Fecal Microbial Transplant (FMT) or Bacteriotherapy
Psychological therapy, in this situation, is a strategy to help manage and reduce our stress response. Practices might include;
- Deep breathing exercises: help calm our mind and body to promote relaxation.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: focuses on modifying behaviors and alters any dysfunctional thought patterns to influence mood and physical symptoms.
- Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy: this is a newer form of therapy where suggestions are made to control and normalize our gut function.
Our diet has such an essential role in how our system functions and maintains itself. Diet adjustments have improved people’s quality of life, protected them against disease and illness, and combatted different health conditions. Various diets target specific issues or conditions. The Mediterranean diet can increase the diversity of the microbiota in our gut, which directly impacts our GBA.
The Low FODMAP Diet is another excellent choice for some; it restricts fermentable carbohydrates to reduce gut symptoms.
What and how we eat regularly will directly impact our health and general well-being. If you’re feeling any kind of way, try looking at what you’ve been eating to see if that could be the problem.