I would love to give some time to the gut this week. Its simple name understates its powers!
In essence, the gut is a tube that runs from mouth to anus. It is just ONE cell layer thick. That is all that protects our bodies from the outside world and toxins.
A healthy gut should be pristine. Imagine a long tube that is both supple yet strong, glistening pink and immaculately smooth, moist and shiny. The lining of the gut comprises billions of cells which lock into each other perfectly like the best cut jigsaw.
Approximately 80% of our immune system is located in the gut. It is also where most of our serotonin, “the feel good hormone” is made.
While the gut is unbelievably resilient, enough “negatives hits” on it will eventually take its toll. By negative hits, this means toxins including prescription and recreational drugs, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, antibiotics, and also stress, anxiety and depression.
What eventually happens is that those locked cells start to loosen from each other, creating gaps between the cells and creating what is commonly known as “leaky gut”. This means that those toxins that should never see the light of day and should be excreted, can now seep through the gut into the body.
These toxins can be hugely inflammatory and can now travel anywhere in the body, including the brain. An inflamed brain can cause poor brain function and mental health issues.
Now here is the GOOD news!
The gut has a HUGE capacity to remedy itself when given the right support, and most importantly, diet. Furthermore, it has been shown that IMPROVING GUT HEALTH CAN IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH. A 2019 paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed an 86% improvement in anxiety symptoms in a cohort of patients by regulating the gut.
The gut-brain axis leaves me in awe! There are some excellent resources out now to learn more about this subject. Probably one of the best writers on the subject is the neurologist Dr David Perlmutter (drperlmutter.com)
Do please get in touch if you have any comments about today’s article. I would love to hear.
Wishing you all health and happiness,
Yang B, Wei J, Ju P, et al. Effects of regulating intestinal microbiota on anxiety symptoms: A systematic review.
General Psychiatry 2019;32:e100056. doi: 10.1136/gpsych-2019-100056