The Relationship Between Gut Health and Mental Health

Gut Health and Mental Health

Your brain has around 100 billion neurons, which are cells that use electrical impulses and chemical signals to transmit information to other cells in the body. They are like mini messengers, sending information about the external world, our internal experiences, and our body’s function, to the appropriate parts of the body like muscles and glands.

If someone throws a ball at you when you aren’t expecting it, it’s the lightning-fast response of your neurons that helps you catch the ball before it smashes into your face—neurons take the information about the ball coming at you and then send electrical signals to your arm muscles to catch it. But did you know that your gut has 500 million neurons? That means the same cells that work in your brain to help your body to breathe, pump your heart, smile, or paint the next masterpiece, are living in your gut too.

When someone says they are trusting their gut, they are literally trusting what some scientists call “the little brain” in their gut. In fact, the “little brain” is known as the enteric nervous system or ENS. More studies are finding that gut health affects mental health, which is good news for people who struggle with mood swings, feel worried, or who have a long-term low mood or low motivation. This means that by caring for your gut, you might be like the people in this study and experience a significant change in your overall mood and well-being when you start taking care of your gut with a thorough gut health regimen.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut and brain are connected through the nervous system, the immune system, and hormones. These systems are considered part of the gut-brain axis—the highway of information that travels from your brain to your gut and vice versa. Most of the messages between the two happen via the vagus nerve, which also controls the messages sent to the heart, lungs, and other organs. The gut is also connected to the brain chemically with hormones and neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are the chemicals used to carry messages from one neuron to the next. Some neurotransmitters are produced in the brain and some neurotransmitters are produced in the gut by bacteria. Think serotonin and dopamine, the happiness and reward neurotransmitters. Less widely known are glutamate, which helps with learning and memory, and GABA, which helps control anxiety and fear. Consider how many mental health issues might be lessened or even resolved with an increase in just the happiness, reward, learning, and calming neurotransmitters. And those are just a few of the 30 neurotransmitters produced in the gut, meaning that when your gut is in balance and has a good variety of healthy bacteria, it is sending all of those good neurotransmitters to your brain, potentially helping reduce feelings of anxiety and sadness while increasing the feelings of well being.

Hormones also help with the communication between the brain and the gut. Hormones are another chemical messenger in your body, produced by the endocrine glands instead of the nervous system (remember, neurotransmitters are produced by the nervous system). Many of the hormones that travel through the gut-brain axis are responsible for sending signals about digestion. These hormones tell the brain that your body is hungry, or full, or somewhere in between. They also send feelings of satiation to the brain, meaning they tell the brain that the body is not too full but has consumed enough calories to feel just right. When we consider these signals, it is no wonder that weight loss is tied to gut health—when our gut is in balance our bodies can tell us that we are full and satiated. When our gut microbiome is out of balance we might overeat and never feel truly satisfied with a meal.

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What Can You Do?

Nearly one in every five adults in the US live with a mental illness. While this is a daunting statistic, it means that if you or a loved one struggles with your mental health, you certainly aren’t alone. Common mental health struggles like anxiety or depression are related to the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. When your body doesn’t get enough of those hormones, you are not going to feel as happy, relaxed, connected, or peaceful.

So what can you do to make sure you have a healthy brain and great mental health? There are many actions you can take to improve your mental health, but one easy way to start today is to add a probiotic to your daily health routine. Probiotics add variety and quantity to your existing gut microbiome, helping to increase the good bacteria that produce those feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters. Not only are probiotics a powerhouse for adding good bacteria to your gut, but they are an easy addition to your daily schedule. Sometimes, when you are experiencing a low mood or a stressful time in your life, it’s hard to add exercise, a healthy diet, or schedule an appointment with your medical provider. But it’s easy to take one extra pill a day, and it could have huge mental health benefits so you can take the next steps to feel better.

Ways To Reduce Stress and Anxiety

If you are in a tough spot with your mental health, a list of things to do may feel like a burden rather than a path to feeling better. The exhaustion of living with a low mood can’t be underestimated, so we have a list of actions you can take to feel better that don’t require tons of effort, but when combined with improving your gut health can make an impact on your day-to-day wellness. If this list feels too overwhelming, just pick one or two items that feel achievable, then build on your success over time by adding another item.

1. Drink a Glass of Water

That’s right! Hydration is a huge part of your mental health. When your body is dehydrated it might send signals to panic about the lack of water. Those signals translate as stress, and then you are in low-grade stress because you didn’t drink enough water. Not only will hydration help you feel better, but it can also be meditative. Try drinking the glass of water with intention—notice the feeling of the glass on your lips, the temperature of the water, the taste in your mouth, and the sensation of the water going down your throat. This minute of mindfulness can help ground you into the moment, pause racing thoughts, and maybe even remind you of how grateful you are for easy access to water.

2. Focus On Gratitude

We’ve all heard of writing three things we are grateful for at the end of the day, and that’s a great practice if you can set the habit. But sometimes setting a habit we have to do every day feels overwhelming, and if you miss a day you might give up altogether. So if you only can commit to one day, try sending a letter to someone who has positively impacted your life. Think about teachers, friends, family, or neighbors who have helped you, then write your gratitude in a letter. You can send it if you want, but simply writing the letter will help you feel better and more connected to the people who love you.

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3. Go Outside

That’s it. Just go outside. Notice the weather, the smells, the view, the sounds. Stay outside until you start noticing details you wouldn’t normally notice, like the shapes of the clouds or the details on a leaf. Not only is going outside an opportunity to be mindful, but the vitamin D from the sun and the potential for connecting with other people make it a great way to boost your mood with little effort.

4. Do One Task

If you feel overwhelmed by the list of tasks you want to complete, pick the one that will give you the most visual results and do that first. By visual results, we mean something that you can see has changed—this could be cleaning off a surface, making your bed, getting dressed in your favorite outfit, taking a shower, or vacuuming. When we don’t feel motivated to tackle our to-do list, the best way to get your brain to keep going on the to-do list is to give it a hit of dopamine, the reward hormone. That’s why picking a task you can visually see as “complete” will work best for starting your list- your brain sees the complete task and gives you a dump of dopamine, encouraging you to do another task and then another.

5. Indulge Yourself

We don’t mean eat an entire cheesecake by yourself or buy the expensive shoes you’ve had your eye on. We mean the small indulgences you can do for free (or almost free!) Take a long walk, call a friend who helps you laugh, watch an episode of a comedy you love, drink your morning coffee on the porch, take a long shower, and listen to your favorite music while you get ready for the day. It really is the small things that help life feel magical. But it isn’t magic, it’s brain chemistry. Again, when we do small things often to boost the happy hormones in our brains, it changes how we feel in the long term.

6. Focus On Your Relationships

Humans are social creatures. Our physical, mental, and emotional health depend on connections with other humans, especially people who love us. Whether it is a family member, friend, or even an acquaintance, having consistent connections with other people helps stabilize our moods and helps us feel less alone in the world. You certainly don’t have to focus on all of your relationships but pick one or two that feel safe and rewarding, and put your energy towards building those bridges.

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7. Take Control of Your Physical Health

If it feels daunting to implement a whole new workout routine and a strict diet, start small. In fact, small changes over time tend to become permanent habits. So choose one thing, however small, to improve your physical health. Start carrying a water bottle so it’s easier to stay hydrated, or add some gentle stretching to your morning routine. Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast or add a smoothie to your already healthy breakfast. Go to bed a little earlier and keep your phone out of the bedroom. Add a supplement or two that is formulated to give your body the boost it needs to keep you going throughout the day.

Keep Your Gut in Check, Keep Your Mental Health in Check.

All the tips from above might feel overwhelming, especially when you are already in a funk. That’s why the X Advanced™ kit from Xyngular is simple and easy, created to help you feel better in every aspect of your life.* The X Advanced kit helps with wellness from the inside out, helping you feel and look your best. This kit has everything you need to start on your inside-out wellness journey, including products focused on gut health like Xyngular Complete Probiotic or Flush, as well as products focused on weight management like Lean, Accelerate, and Resist. The kit also has our best products for increasing energy, like Xyng and Trimstix. With products like Axion, Advanced Omega, and Global Blend, the X Advanced kit also provides you with everything you need to meet your daily nutritional needs including vitamins, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and Omega-3s. Xyngular Complete Collagen helps your digestive system as well as improves skin, hair, nails, and joints, making it easier to feel good, inside and out, in your skin.*

When you need support for your mental health, the combination of all these products can help balance your body’s physiological needs to ensure that you have all the physical support you need to take care of your mental health. The X Advanced Kit takes care of all your physical needs while focusing on the importance of gut health for maintaining good mental health. If you are ready to take your physical and mental health into your own hands and start feeling better, contact your Xyngular Distributor today, or log in to your account and place an order for the X Advanced kit. Trust your gut, try X Advanced from Xyngular today!*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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