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Does Gut Health Affect Mental Health?

It may be surprising to hear, but your gut health could be contributing to feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. That is because your brain is closely connected to the gut, and these systems can significantly impact one another. Luckily, by better understanding the connection between your gut and brain, you can achieve both greater physical and mental wellness. 

The Gut and Brain are Connected

Your gut has its own “brain,” called the enteric nervous system or ENS. This system consists of millions of nerve cells that line your gastrointestinal tract. 

The ENS primarily manages digestion, but it also directly communicates with the brain by sending and receiving chemical messages. Microorganisms in the gut, known as the microbiome, can negatively impact the sending and receiving of these messages as a result of an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the microbiome. The affected communication between the gut and the brain may also potentially lead to both mental and gastrointestinal issues. 

Studies have found that when irritation occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, the ENS can transmit signals to the central nervous system, or CNS. These signals may stimulate changes in mood. This is likely why patients with gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often suffer from anxiety and depression. 

Taking Care of Your Gut and Brain

Gastrointestinal discomfort can be worsened as feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression can cause an imbalance in your microbiome. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor to find out how you can improve your gut and mental health. 

At The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine, we provide a holistic approach to a wide array of health concerns, including gastrointestinal discomfort. With medications, supplements, IV therapy, detoxification, diet, and lifestyle changes, we can help you to improve the health of both your gut and mind. 

Schedule an appointment with us today! 

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