The stomach is sometimes referred to, in mental health circles, as the “second brain.” A healthy gut has been linked, in recent research, to healthy brain function. According to an article from Clinics and Practice, “Healthy gut function has been linked to normal central nervous system (CNS) function. Hormones, neurotransmitters, and immunological factors released from the gut are known to send signals to the brain either directly or via autonomic neurons.” These neurons are at their best when levels of healthy bacteria are elevated in the stomach and intestines. Clinics and Practice also states that “studies have emerged focusing on variations in the microbiome and the effect on various central nervous system disorders, including, but not limited to anxiety, depressive disorders, schizophrenia, and autism.” Disturbance in the gut biome correlates to the worsening of symptoms of mental health disorders. Combatting microbiome disturbances can be as simple as making minor lifestyle changes. These changes can include taking a probiotic supplement, eating healthy portions of live cultures, including yogurt, kefir, etc., and staying hydrated with sufficient water. Gut health may not be the sole cause or component of one’s mental health in its totality. However, there are clear impacts of a healthy diet, live cultures, and healthy bacteria in the body.
Written by: Victoria Baker, Mental Health Counseling Clinician
Supervisor: Dr. April Brown
Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut
microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and Practice, 7(4), 987.