We’re often told to ‘go with your gut’ when it comes to important life decisions, but is there really a connection between digestive health and how we think? It turns out, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Human Microbiome Explained
Despite increasing research into the gut microbiome, there’s still much to learn about this complex ecosystem. One thing that is well established, however, is its ability to impact broader wellbeing.
The bowel plays host to a constant balance of good and bad bacteria throughout a person’s lifespan. The good strains (probiotics) benefit our health by assisting with food breakdown and nutrient absorption, producing ‘postbiotic’ metabolites such as folic acid, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 in the process.
Conversely, bad bacteria produce adverse effects. Along with relatively minor issues such as gas and bloating, an overabundance (dysbiosis) of this type of microorganism can result in autoimmune problems, sleep issues, skin rashes, weight gain, and allergies. It may also allow opportunistic pathogens - those that usually exist in the body without doing harm - to take hold and cause disease. These include bacteroidetes, E. coli, and streptococcus, among countless others.
Can Gut Health Improve Your Mental Health?
The key to uncovering the link between digestive health and the brain lies in examining the biological mechanism by which these two seemingly discrete systems interact.
Embedded into the intestinal wall are around 100 million nerves known as the enteric nervous system or ‘second brain’. These work in tandem to transmit messages to and from the brain inside your head. You may have felt the result of this connection in the form of “butterflies in your stomach” - a sensation thought to be due to “dialogue” between the two networks before a stressful or exciting event.
Harvard Assistant Professor Laura Cox, Ph.D. described it as “...a two-way street of feedback loops” in which one ‘brain’ can directly influence the other. A clear example of this can be seen in serotonin production, 90% of which occurs in the gut thanks to specific bacteria that can both detect and reproduce the ‘feel good’ hormone derived from the brain.
Another powerful neurotransmitter created by probiotics (particularly Bacillus strains) is the anxiety-reducing amino acid GABA. There’s some debate about whether this chemical can cross the blood-brain barrier when it originates in the gut, but it likely imparts a positive effect on mood and cognition through the aforementioned enteric pathway or via the vagus nerve.
Can An Unbalanced Gut Influence Mental Health?
While the mental benefits of a balanced gut microbiome are many, so too are the consequences of an unhealthy one.
When things skew for the worse it can result in disruption to peripheral nervous system signalling. This has the potential to cause obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, and several other associated comorbidities. Such a change in weight and bodily function may lead to reduced self esteem, depressive thoughts, and anxiety if left untreated.
These symptoms are often compounded by a diminished ability to properly produce serotonin - a chemical that not only directly affects happiness, but also the ability to get a good, restful night’s sleep.
Finally, an excess of bad bacteria in the intestines can invoke an immune response by either facilitating the proliferation of opportunistic bacteria, or through their own metabolites. This has the potential to trigger chronic and sustained brain inflammation, a serious condition which is linked to depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer's disease.
How to Preserve Your Gut Health
Maintaining gut health is key to living a happy life, but doing so is often easier said than done. One handy way to optimise yours is with Biotica Water.
With the perfect balance of probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics, Biotica Water is specifically designed to improve gut health.
Each bottle contains 1 billion colony-forming units of Bacillus Subtilis - a highly-studied strain of good bacteria known for its durability and health-promoting properties. It’s fueled by prebiotic fibre derived from chicory root, which feeds the probiotic so it can thrive and impart maximum benefit.
Along with the unique Bio-az formulation, all Biotica Water products are entirely plant-based, gluten free, allergen free, and sugar free. They’re available in four delicious, all-natural flavours, including Plain, Lemon Myrtle and Yuzu, Cucumber and Mint, and Pomegranate.
Order a one-off purchase or subscription now to start enjoying the ‘happy gut feeling’ of Biotica Water.
NOTE: The information contained herein and on other pages of the Biotica Water website is general in nature and does not constitute specific medical advice. Be sure to consult with a medical professional before altering your diet.