The surprising link between gut health and head health

The surprising link between gut health and head health

04 February 2021

Research shows that our gut microbiome has a direct effect on our mental health. One of our Exercise Physiologist's Lauren has explained how this works and provided some tips on how to manage this.

As a child, I remember hearing the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ and instantly visualising a human body made of celery legs, cauliflower hair and beans for eyebrows, and being unsure as to whether that’s what I wanted for myself. As a somewhat sensible adult, and an exercise physiologist, I now know that you are indeed what you eat – physically and mentally. Most of us understand the impact of a balanced, wholefoods diet on our health, waistband, sleep and energy levels but what about on our mood and mental health?

Research shows that our gut microbiome has a direct effect on our mental health and is often referred to as the gut-brain axis. Inflammation of the gut has been strongly linked to anxiety, depression and mood changes either chronic or acute.

The bacteria in our gut also produces hundreds of neurochemicals which help to regulate our learning, memory function and mood. Serotonin, the ‘feel good’ hormone, is just one of these, with up to 90% of the body’s supply being found in the gut.

Serotonin is the key hormone that helps stabilise mood and helps to create feelings of happiness and wellbeing, as well as helping with nervous system function, sleeping and digestion. The healthier the diet, the better equipped we are to create adequate amounts of these feel good hormones and improve our health in body and mind.

Things you can do to manage your gut health:

  • Take pro and pre biotics under the guidance of your GP
  • Reduce stress and prioritise good quality sleep
  • Move regularly
  • Eat wholefoods and less packaged foods
  • Reduce the consumption of drugs, alcohol and refined sugars
If any content in this article resonates with you and you’d like to speak with someone at Mates4Mates about seeking support, contact us to find out more about our services. All Mates4Mates services are available for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members with physical injuries or mental health issues, and their families.

Contact us today.

Written by Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologist, Lauren Kelly 

  • Physical health and wellbeing
  • Mental health

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