Your Gut Affects Your Brain, so Take Care of It

The gut’s ecosystem of bacteria (or microbiome) is often called the “second brain” because it’s so intricately connected to mental activity and health. In fact, the vast neural network in our guts communicates mainly with these bacteria, which in turn influence the brain through multiple mechanisms. Around a thousand different species of gut bacteria play a major role in anxiety, depression, memory loss, and other disorders. To a great extent, they regulate how we think and feel. These same bacteria also cause bloating, obesity, food allergies, diabetes, infections, and skin problems like eczema and rosacea.

A vast number of Americans maintain horrible diets that breed unhealthy gut microbes and the inevitable mental and emotional problems that go with them. All the psychological counseling in the world won’t fix this. On the other hand, smarter dietary habits will. Current research indicates that a healthy gut reduces inflammation levels, lowers stress, improves memory, and mitigates neuroticism and social anxiety.

Gut health isn’t as hard to maintain as some might think. The first thing to do is cut back on the consumption of inflammatories like refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods. Alcohol, caffeine, and various drugs are irritants, too, and should therefore be avoided or consumed in moderation. Next, reducing stress levels by whatever means possible improves gut health. Finally, taking a good probiotic supplement and adding sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, wild salmon, garlic, onions, and high-fiber foods to one’s diet will produce great results. In short, using your stomach as a dumpster isn’t a good idea.