Our gut microbiome: the link between our physical and mental health

Did you know that each of us has trillions of micro-organisms in our gut? Collectively called the gut microbiome, we now know they have a huge effect on our physical and mental health.

The sheer number of microbes points to their power – the cells in our microbiome outnumber human cells by 10 to 1!

But as any good house guest knows, you’ve got to bring something to the party to get a repeat invite!

A mutually beneficial relationship has evolved over millions of years, where these microorganisms gain ‘food and shelter’, and in return produce a myriad of chemicals and messenger molecules that benefit their host – i.e. us!

One startling example is the direct communication that happens 24/7 between our gut and our brain. In fact, our gut microbiome is often referred to as our ‘second brain’.  

Our second brain

Microbes in our gut produce hundreds of powerful chemical messenger molecules – including hormones and neurotransmitters – that influence how we think and feel, e.g.:

💡 Serotonin – the happy molecule which boosts our mood and sleep

💡 GABA – the calming molecule which, if missing or reduced, is associated with anxiety and depression

💡 Dopamine – associated with pleasure and satisfaction, as well as motivation

The power of gut health

In addition to mental health, our gut microbes are also crucial to:

  • Digestion
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Blood sugar
  • Sleep
  • Weight
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol

Researchers are also investigating the role of our microbiome in health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Chron’s Disease, colon cancer and more.

So, it’s easy to see just how important our microbiome is to our health.

We’re just learning how we can use this knowledge to improve our physical and mental well-being.

NOTE: This does not constitute medical advice. Seek advice from a healthcare professional as needed

Sources & further reading

How do gut microbes influence mental health:
How do gut microbes influence mental health? – Dinan – 2022 – Trends in Urology & Men’s Health – Wiley Online Library

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