October is Mental Health Month in NSW and to mark this important month we are looking at the gut-brain connection and how it may contribute to mental health and digestion problems.
Millions of nerves and neuron run between your gut and brain causing physical and chemical reactions between the two.
Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach? This is more than just a saying – the gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion, anger, anxiety, sadness, and elation – all these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms and responses in the gut.
Given how closely the gut and brain interact, it becomes easier to understand why you may feel nauseated before giving a presentation or feel intestinal pain during times of stress.
Mental Health Month provides us with an opportunity to consider the ways in which we can best support our gut-brain wellbeing – especially during stressful times.
Several foods such as oily fish, fermented foods and high-fibre food may help increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut and improve brain health. Including these foods in your everyday diet may be beneficial:
- Omega-3 fats: Mackerel, salmon, oysters, and anchovies
- Fermented foods: Yogurt or coconut yogurt for a dairy-free alternative, kefir, sauerkraut, and cheese
- High-fibre foods: Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables
(If you are someone who has trouble digesting raw nuts and seeds, try blending them in a smoothie)
- Polyphenol-rich foods: Raw cocoa powder, green tea, olive oil and even coffee (caffeine lovers rejoice!)
Other ways to support your gut and brain health is to practise meditation which activates the ‘rest and digest’ response. This helps to alleviate digestive issues by easing symptoms of IBS, support a healthy gut barrier and reduce inflammation in the body. Any form of meditation will allow your body’s sympathetic nervous system a chance to relax and reset.
At Beechnut Medical Rooms our dietitian provides compassionate, holistic, and patient-centred care to help you achieve overall wellbeing.
It can be helpful to talk to your GP before making an appointment with one of our dietitian. To organise a consultation with a dietitian at Beechnut Medical Rooms you can fill out an enquiry form on our website or contact us directly on 02 4910 0591.